How to avoid problems with inbreeding in goats?

Asked February 4, 2018, 3:45 AM EST

I have paid for 15 goats -- 13 females and 2 unfixed males for a mission in Rwanda, Africa. I know that at first, the females can be "exclusively bred" to one of the studs, and their "daughters" could then be "exclusively bred" to the second stud. But do you have a rule of thumb, that doesn't involve complex formulas, for when new studs would have to be added to the gene pool, to avoid problems with "inbreeding"? The extreme way to avoid inbreeding, I assume, would be to add a new stud for each successive generation out from the original parents. But is there a less costly way for the mission, while at the same time not too complicated to calculate, to keep it under control? Or should I just realize, that from the other side of the globe, the only thing I can really do to help, is transfer money for them to buy a new pair of studs periodically? I won't be able to keep track of how many generations have been born, so roughly how many years from now? I have included a picture of some of the goats (and their new owners) so you may be able to estimate their breed and the length of an average generation. Any suggestions you can provide would be appreciated.

Arapahoe County Colorado

1 Response

You are correct there can be some very complex formulas for this. However, some of the basic questions depends on management. If they are willing/able to keep two separate breeding groups you can replace the bucks every 4 years without concern for inbreeding. If you want to get on a rotation to only need to replace one at a time you could replace the first at 2 years and each buck at 4 years in the herd after that. You would have some inbreeding but it would be a small level and should not cause any major issues.

If they run them in one breeding group or run both bucks with the does at all times then you need to shorten that to replacing every couple of years. Again, this can be done in a rotation but you would need to start sooner. With this system, you cannot be sure which buck breeds which females so you do not know the level of inbreeding in any individual. You can have sires breeding their daughters so you have to replace them more often.

I don’t know what the program has done other than what your question, so I have one caution to through out there. I have seen these programs fail in other places due to one issue. The animals need good nutrition to produce to the genetic potential. If you have not done so already, you may want to have some nutritional education with the group to make sure the animals are able to produce to their potential. Without proper nutrition and health care the animals will not last as long in the environment and they may not produce as much as expected. Just a caution, thought goats seem to do better in most of these areas than sheep or cattle.