Nature Versus Nurture: A Formula for Goats
By Jill Lee
January 6, 1997
How much of a dairy goats observed traits is a result of the
animals genetics? How much is an environmental influence?
Breeders could more accurately evaluate a dairy goats merit if they
had clearer answers to these questions.
Now, researchers at the Agricultural
Research Service have devised a mathematical formula that will help. The
formula describes genetic as well as environmental components of traits such as
a goats strength, stature and udder shape. It separates temporary
environmental factors, such as the season, from permanent ones such as injury.
The formula also considers influences of all of the animals
relatives--not just its sire, as other models do.
The researchers found that the least likely genetic influences are rear
udder arch and rear legs. By contrast, stature, teat diameter and placement are
The formula was developed with data from the American Dairy Goat Association, including
records of 154 herds and six breeds, and pedigrees for animals born in 1978 or
Scientific contact: Suzanne Hubbard and George Wiggans,
USDA-ARS Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory,
Beltsville, Md., phone (301)504-8334