CGS is pleased to announce that the goatgenetics.ca database is now open for all members to access data on all goats!
Why is the database now open?
At the 2016 Annual General Meeting, members in attendance discussed and approved allowing all members to see data on all goats (rather than only their own herd and the top goats). Members agreed that opening access is important for the development of breed improvement strategies and the sector as a whole.
Since then, the Canadian Goat Society has been working closely with the developer of goatgenetics.ca to program the database so information on all goats is open to all members.
Why is an open database helpful?
When you consider purchasing a goat, having this information assists you in deciding if that animal is the right fit for your herd. Instead of contacting each breeder about each animal you are interested in, you can now look at the goat’s performance on goatgenetics.ca. This allows you to consider several animals with much less effort.
While knowing the top 50 animals in a breed is wonderful, sometimes budget or personal preference means a different animal is the one best to join your herd. After all, there are hundreds of quality goats across Canada. Breeders should be able to discover all goats in the Canadian dairy goat herd. Allowing all members to access information for all goats will speed the rate of genetic improvement in Canada.
What does the data on goatgenetics.ca mean?
The data is calculated from CGS’s milk recording and classification information. In order to have your herd’s information online, sign up for milk recording and classification this year. More information and applications can be found goats.ca/services.
The data for each goat is expressed as an estimated breeding value (EBV). EBVs represent an animal’s genetic merit, half of which is passed on to its offspring. EBVs give breeders an idea of how a particular goat’s kids may perform compared to the breed average.
EBVs on young goats (those without their own offspring or performance records) are calculated based on the performance data of their female relatives. As a goat acquires its own records and has offspring with their own records, the EBVs are changed to reflect this information. EBVs are calculated for individual milk production and body confirmation traits; the individual traits are combined using appropriate weights to create the three selection indices.
Based on performance data EBVs for milk, fat and protein are calculated. These EBVs are ranked according to the current breed averages and are expressed in the same units you would use to measure those traits. For instance, if the goat has a +30 EBV for milk, that means the goat is estimated to have the genetic potential to produce, over the year, 30 kg more milk than the breed average. The same principle applies for protein and fat yield.
For the three selection indices (production, type, and combined), the breed average is always 100. Anything over 100 is above the breed average. Type traits are ranked out of 9, with 5 being the breed average.
What should breeders do with the data?
EBVs are meant to give you useful data to aid in making breeding and culling decisions in your herd. The amount of emphasis you put on the numerical values is up to each breeder. The milk performance information and EBVs allows breeders to quantify the value of each individual goat.
Essentially, an EBV for any particular dam is an estimation of her ability to pass on traits of value to her offspring. For instance, if a dam has a milk EBV of 30 kg, you would estimate that she would pass half of that ability, 15 kg over the breed average, onto any of her daughters (the other half of course coming from the chosen sire).
Using these numbers you can do many things. For ongoing production, you can use a ranked list of your goats to keep the most productive animals and cull animals with lower performance. Likewise, you could use doe kids from the top chosen percent of your dams for replacement stock. This way, you are constantly improving the production of your herd.
Also, you can use the values and the tools to predict the EBVs for offspring based on their parents. This may help you to decide what bucks to buy, keep or sell and which to use as herd sires. These are just two examples of how to use the data to help inform herd management decisions and speed genetic improvement.
For more information on EBVs click here.