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Australian smallholders: Breeding worm-resistant goats
Worm resistance explained including how to choose bucks to breed worm-resistant goats.
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Resistance to worms: Goats that are resistant to worms can prevent some or all worms from establishing and as a result have lower worm burdens and therefore lower worm egg counts.
Resilience to worms: Goats that are resilient to worms can grow and produce with less ill effects from worms despite carrying a worm burden. An animal’s performance for a particular trait, such as growth, will also be dictated by its genetic merit for that trait. So, when comparing two animals with similar Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for growth, a more resilient animal will perform better than a less resilient animal when both have high worm burdens. Resilience is independent of worm resistance so must be selected separately by choosing better production performance.
If you regularly score individual goat eye colour as part of your barber’s pole worm management, you can select for resilience to barber’s pole worm by choosing animals with darker eye colour scores as they are likely to carry fewer worms and require fewer drenches for barber's pole worm.
Worm egg counts of bucks need to be measured; the herd should be run and managed together so that their results can be compared.
Worm Egg Count Estimated Breeding Value (WEC EBV). Choose the WEC EBV age that corresponds to the time of most worm-challenge on your property, e.g. weaning (WWEC), post-weaning (PWEC), yearling (YWEC).
Worm resistant goats will reduce the level of worm contamination on pastures.
A goat’s resistance to worms directly affects the number of worms it carries. In more resistant goats (those with lower WEC EBV), the worm egg count will be lower, fewer eggs will be passed into the dung and onto the pasture. In more worm-resistant goats:
Dag resulting from scour worms is not an indicator that the goats are less resistant to worms.
The propensity to scour has a substantial genetic component that is independent of both resistance and resilience to worms. Only fibre goats will show dags, but meat and dairy goats can display soiling of their hindquarters and under their tails, but these effects do not last long and are not available as EBVs for goats.
The average worm egg count of Buck A’s progeny were about 40% lower than the average WEC of Buck B’s progeny.
The difference between the bucks themselves is 80%, but because the progeny gain only half of their genes from their sire and the other half comes from their dam, only half the difference between the bucks is expected in this case (as the does were all equal).
In simple terms, Buck A is likely to have 80% less worm eggs himself at any time than Buck B if they were managed and run together. As only half of his genes are passed on, only half (on average) of the additional level of resistance is passed on; in this case, 40%.
If Buck A’s progeny averaged about 1000 epg, then Buck B’s progeny will be about 40% higher: about 1400 epg.
Note: This is a simplistic mathematical explanation of the impact of using bucks with different WEC EBV. Actual differences used in developing EBV are calculated in a more complex manner.
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