ESTIMATED BREEDING VALUES (EBVs)
We sometimes provide in-herd estimated breeding values (EBVs) for sale stock and herdsires. EBVs are similar to the EPDs that are familiar to all purebred cattle breeders...and which are the reason that breeds like Angus have made such rapid genetic gains.
Our EBVs are computed by Sheep Genetics Austrailia's Kidplan, and are based on data we have collected from thousands of animals over the last 15 years. Kidplan's computer modelling takes into account each animal's full pedigree, birth-rear type, growth data, heritability, known trait relationships, environmental variation, and more, to produce weighted estimates of each animal's true genetic value.
Because there are no other Kiko breeders using Kidplan, the results are valid for comparison only within our herd. Also, Sheep Genetics does not report accuracy values for in-herd EBVs. However, these EBVs are still considerably more effective as a selection tool than any other form of on-farm analysis.
In addition, when we trial an outside buck, Kidplan is able to generate EBVs for that animal which allow us to know immediately whether or not the genetics are superior or inferior to our current herdsires. For example, in 2016, we trialled semen from Q Farms' Bullet - full brother to Lady Blackbird of Goat Hill Kikos. We hope to trial other prominent genetics from other farms in future years.
See this handout for more information on Kidplan's EBVs.
ABOUT OUR PRICING
We are often asked about the basis of our pricing, because some goats are much more expensive than others. We also get questions about the statistics cited in the animal listings, such as "Birth-Rear Status" and "90-Day Index."
The short answer is that generally, the higher we think the goat's genetic value is, the higher the price. However, there are two exceptions: registration and age.
We charge significantly more for 100% NZ goats, and to a lesser extent, purebred and 7/8 registered goats. A goat may cost up to $500 more due to its registration than it would if it were unregistered.
Our 100% NZ animals were expensive to acquire, because they came directly from New Zealand - and they are worth substantially more to most breeders. Similarly, purebred and 7/8 animals represent several generations of registration hassle and expense. In the early years of our operation, a large part of our herd went unregistered due to AKGA's $50 registration per goat fees, the burden of DNA testing and tattooing, and additional paperwork.
The second exception is age: an old animal will be priced much lower than she would be at a younger age. We sometimes offer our aged herd does for sale; these are generally the very best animals we have. The only way a doe could remain in our herd for 8 to 10 years is by meeting our standards year after year. However, due to their age, these superior animals will be priced lower than younger animals that are not as good.
When comparing goats within a similar class of registration (for example, 100% NZ) and similar age, it is safe to assume that the higher the price, the more genetic value we think the animal has. We use a combination of these factors to compare animals:
EBVs: The Kidplan EBVs are now our primary selection tool. Most important values for us are Weaning Weight (WWT), PWWT (Post-Weaning Weight) and Number Born (NKB). Also of interest is Maternal Weaning Weight (MWWT), a measure of a doe's own ability as a mother, ignoring the effects of the kids' genetics. However, we still pay close attention to actual performance, and EBVs do not excuse poor real-world outcomes.
Birth-Rear Ranking: The first number indicates how many animals were in the litter, and the second how many were reared by the dam. For example: 3-2 indicates a triplet reared as a twin. A 1-3 animal was born a single, but raised a triplet (rare, but it happens). Since growth in kids is limited by the dam's milk production, we only compare kids with the same birth-rear status. 1-1 animals (singles) are not preferred. A doe that singles more than once is typically removed from our herd. Multiple births are diffcult to breed for, since heritability is estimated at only 15% under normal conditions. The reason we stress our does is to increase the heritability of this trait.
90-Day and 120-Day Weight: This is a computer generated estimate of what the animal weighed at 90 or 120 days old. Adjusted weights are corrected for the effect of a first-time mother, or 2-1, 2-3, 1-2, or 3-2 birth-rear situations. 90-day weights are the best estimate of a dam's milk producing ability. 120-day weights give some consideration to a kid's growth potential right after weaning. 150-day and 180-day weights can also be used, depending on how long slaughter kids are usually kept before sale. We use these longer-term indices to narrow buck selection after the initial cut is made based on 120-day rankings.
90-Day and 120-Day Index: The index is a comparison of the goat's adjusted 90- or 120-day weight with the average for that birth-rear group (1-1, 2-2 or 3-3). A 100 index means the animal was exactly average. A 85 index means it was 85% of the average, and a 120 index means it was 120% of average. Unlike 90- and 120-day weights, index rankings can be compared between years, sexes, and birth-rear status.
90-Day and 120-Day Litter Index: The average of all littermates' indices. A twin litter with a 105 index kid and a 95 index kid yields a litter index of 100. An animal is better if its littermate is also good, because it indicates strong performance of the dam. For example, a triplet buck with a personal index of 125 and a litter index of 110 is more impressive than one with a litter index of 90 (which likely includes either a runt or two substandard siblings).
Scrotal Circumference: Bigger testicles are associated with increased breeding ability, and with higher fertility in female offspring. Bucks must have a minimum 25cm scrotal circumference. We frown on any split in the scrotum, but the breed standard permits up to a 2cm split.
Dam Performance History: The past performance of an animal's dam is very important, especially for herdsires. We look closely at her udder and mothering ability, the size of her kids at weaning, and her twinning rate. A second singling by a dam, or a first singling if there is a family history of singling, results in heavy price discounting of her female offspring, and culling of her male offspring.
Udder Score: This is a 5-point rating applied at freshening. Read more here.
Career Kidding Average: The average number of kids born in a doe's first 7 kiddings. We consider does retired at 9 years old.