On Performance Programs
I feel that because it is necessary for goats to produce kids to produce milk, that it is my responsibility to strive to improve the breed by careful breeding in addition to being concerned about whether or not my current goats are producing milk. To that end, I have become a member of the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) and the International Nubian Breeders Association (INBA), and make sure that I follow the standard practices for dairy goats, such as disbudding and registering my goats.
There are several programs to devise metrics by which a goat owner can measure the performance of their goats, both from aconformation standpoint (Linear Appraisal) and from a milk production standpoint (Dairy Herd Improvement Records, or DHIR), and these are combined into the ADGA Plus program. I think that both of these programs are an excellent idea, and I would greatly like to participate in both of them. However, at this time, Tanglebriar Nubians does not participate in either of the programs that make up the ADGA Plus program.
Due to chronic illness, traveling for Linear Appraisal is not a viable option for me and the goats. The DHIR program has a new owner testing option which may be possible, but I have a certain amount of cognitive dysfunction and coordination issues which has led to some record problems and missing or incomplete data with my own barn sheets, so we'll see how that goes, and maybe once milking becomes more of a routine, we can get on that. (Updated 10 March 2016: I am working on getting signed up for the DHIR program, and seeing if linear appraisal will work out for us. Did I mention I have a PhD which mostly involved playing with data? The thought of collecting all the data I can on my own goats has been too tempting, and so I'm going to try to figure out a way to make it work.)
Another option for the goat owner which is more amenable for me is genetic testing. ADGA has programs where a hair sample can be provided for testing alpha s1-casein (milk protein variation that affect the composition of the milk) and G-6-S (a recessive genetic disorder). As both of these tests allow me to stay on the farm and send in hair on a good day, the does and I will be participating in those programs.
While there are certain limitations to the performance programs that the goats and I are able to participate in due to my chronic illness, I am determined to breed and raise the best goats that I can. The use of genetic testing, as well as attention to the pedigree and the attributes that I am looking for in my goats provides additional information for me to use in devising a breeding plan.