BREEDING EXPERIMENTS WITH ANGORA GOATS
J. E. Nel
Despite the fact that there are weighty breeding problems associated with the industry, the breeding improvement of the Angora goat is a subject which has not as yet received the attention it merits. In this connection special mention can be made of the problem of low reproductivity, where abortion also plays a role. There is also a lack of knowledge concerning the genetic aspects (heritability, repeatability andcorrelations) which are important considerations in devising effective breeding plans as well as concerning the inheritance of characters such as colour, kemp, etc. which are of economic importance. The genetic basis of abnormalities such as bisexuality (hermaphroditism) ,and cryptorchidism (the inability of the testicles to descend into the scrotum) is still relatively unknown.
An attempt to solve some of these problems was launched when the existing Angora stud at the Grootfontein College of Agriculture, which can in all respects be regarded as excellent breeding stock, was recently taken up in a breeding experiment having a threefold purpose:
To improve the fertility of the stud by culling aborters and poor breeders;
To increase mohair production per animal while at the same time keeping the quality within acceptable limits and
To make observations with respect to certain economically important characters such as birth and weaning weight, number of kids born and weaned per 100 ewes, weight and quality of mohair at different ages, etc.
Selection will be carried out at different stages of the animal's life, namely for weaning weight at weaning age (standardised 120-day weight) and for weight of hair at two-tooth, while ewes with a poor reproductive history will also be culled.
A second experiment has been proposed which has as its object the investigation of the heritability of coloured fibres in Angoras. Here it will be determined to what extent it is possible for coloured fibres to spread into the fleece when animals with black hair on the face or red eyelashes are intensively inbred and selected. If it is found that these undesirable coloured fibres do not spread into the fleece then the amount of selection which is at present spent on colour faults can be used positively to improve production and reproduction traits. Should the contrary be proved it can be decided to what extent colour is allowable without detracting from the excellent processing and dye-taking qualities of mohair. The Angora Goat Stud Breeders' Society has already undertaken to supply 48 ewes and two rams, culled for colour faults, for this purpose. These animals, advertising programme and with the Rand Easter Show.
Provision for the new year is considerably less than during the past year, since it is not intended to run a major fashion show again. Exhibitions at the Rand Easter Show will continue, and the Board is planning a project for closer co-operation with manufacturers and retailers of mohair garments. Advertisements will continue, in co-operation with local interests.
Overseas Promotion R30,000
The Board is now getting into a position where overseas promotion can be pursued more effectively, consequently there is an increase in the amount of this Vote.
The advertising programme on mohair plush upholstery, run jointly with the Dutch weavers and the British spinners, will continue. Provision is also made for other advertisements by the Board at suitable occasions.
Promotion through the use of mounted goats has paid handsome dividends in the past, and the Board is once again in a position to have a number of goats mounted for this purpose. The Board also plans to continue participating in Shows, particularly those organised by the Department of Commerce.
As in the past, visits will once again be paid by a small Mission to the major consuming countries. These visits have had such favourable results upon the interest in South African mohair that their continuation is imperative. This is all the more important, since for the time being the American producers cannot spend promotion money outside the United States.
During the past year the Board has erected its own building, the money for this being taken from the Reserve Fund with the approval of the Minister. For the first time the Board's administration will now be suitably housed. This building is featured elsewhere in this issue.
The Angora goat