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The Art of Breeding Spots and Dapples

GENETIC ADVANTAGE | NICHE MARKET | HISTORY | RESEARCH & RECORD KEEPING | FACTS | CAPRINE CHAMELEONS | PATTERNS | STARTING A SPOTTED HERD ON A SHOESTRING | PURCHASING CONSIDERATIONS


Moon Spots: circular or semi-circular areas of white or a lighter color on a dark background.




Leopard Spots: rosette like cluster with a different colored center.


Dapples: irregular patterning and melding of colors with no distinct edges (often tan and/or white on a dark background).


Tiger Dapples: are a more rare coloration and demonstrate a brindle pattern of striping and ragged edges. These newborns have a Python patterned coat.


Roaning: similar to ticking on a dog, and is found in two patterns, white hairs on dark background or dark hairs on a light background. Boers with spotted genetics that are roan carry the dappled gene, but not every roan goat has spotted genetics.


A variance in coat texture is sometimes seen in animals from spotted genetics and is sometimes exhibited as cowlick type swirls about the body. This variance in hair coat texture will elude to the fact that the animal carries the spotted gene.


Dilute Spots: a lighter spot or patch on a solid colored animal. A dilute spot is not an indicator that the goat is a carrier of the spotted gene unless the animal is from spotted genetics.
Dilute Spots:

FOR ALL THE SKEPTICS
The Boer goat is a developed breed of goat, not an existing species; therefore, it is possible to have spotted and dappled, full blood Boer goats.

THE GENETIC ADVANTAGE
The Key to Breeding Spotted & Dappled Boer Goats ~ Genetic Representation

Today's Boer goat industry has felt the effects of the economy on every level, from production costs to sales. So naturally a niche market that remains stable is appealing to breeders, regardless of their past breeding preferences.

 This livestock niche market will remain lucrative; however there will be a lot of inferior, as well as questionably bred animals being produced in the name of color alone. Many producers are simply breeding for coloration and disregarding the importance of structure, breed character, and conformation. This is fine, I suppose, if the animals are produced for their hides and meat or pets, instead of inferior, registered breeding stock. Legitimate breeders of registered stock should be more critical and truly evaluate what they are producing and purchasing, and the industry as a whole would benefit.

When choosing a spotted or dappled breeding herd, or even a single animal there are even more considerations, in addition to quality and conformation, if you are interested in improving the odds of producing spots. Consistent color production is important to at every level, whether you are breeding for show stock, saleable commercial stock, or even valuable hides.

If you are looking for consistency, in regard to coloration, you need to research the pedigrees of the animals for genetic representation. Genetic Representation (Inherited Representation) is one of the most important aspects of a successful spotted and dappled breeding program, it is also the most often over-looked aspect.  Genetic Representation denotes the number of generations of spots or dapples an animal possesses in its pedigree, and this information allows one to predict patterns of inheritance in family lines. Recessive genes are "realized" when they are inherited from both the sire AND the dam. The value of studying genetics is in understanding how to predict the likelihood of inheriting particular traits. Genetics is the study of heredity or inheritance and helps to explain how traits are passed from parents their young.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF OVERLOOKING "THE KEY"

There have been several spotted bucks in recent years that have brought tremendous figures at sales that failed to prove themselves as consistent spot producers, due to lack of Genetic Representation. Certainly a major let down financially for their new owners and often the reason the original breeder offered them for sale. A quick review of the animals’ pedigrees (and progeny reports – in some cases) would have allowed those buyers to make an informed decision regarding the “true value” of the goat as a producer, or potential producer of consistent spots.

If there are only a few spotted goats in a pedigree the chances for success are minimal at best. If there is one, or no spotted genetics in a pedigree, and the animal is spotted, beware of misrepresentation. A crop-out spotted or dappled is extremely rare. Even if the animal is a legitimate crop-out , that animal will not be a strong spot producer. Crop-outs are never strong color producers. 

We too have tried using spotted bucks that are first, second and even third generation spots, the odds are not impressive. The results are not consistent. We now focus on breeding for consistency, using animals that are prepotent. Prepotency is the ability of an animal to consistently stamp or mark offspring with desirable traits, and is a characteristic necessary to a successful breeding program – spotted or otherwise. A buck touches your entire herd. Your herd sire’s influence can make or break your business.

Genetic Representation is the key to color production in future generations. Keep in mind that every time you outcross to non-spotted lines you will lose consistency, and possibly lose the chance of producing spots or dapples at all, from those progeny.

PROBABILITY OF INHERITANCE

When mating Boer goats, the sire and his ancestors contribute one half (50%) of the inheritance to the offspring, while the dam and her ancestors contribute the other half. The sire and dam contribute one quarter (1/4) each of the offspring’s pedigree, the grandparents contribute 1/8 each, and the great grandparents contribute 1/16 of the inheritance.

Higher Genetic Representation in a pedigree, the better the odds, the better the results. This refers not only to color, but to any heritable traits. Similarly one also must strongly consider the number of spotted or dappled animals in a pedigree. The more spotted goats in a pedigree, higher the genetic representation, the better the odds for noticeable similarities in phenotype (physical appearance). For example; you can also get more percentage of contribution if a particular ancestor appears in other parts of a pedigree.

The farther back in the pedigree, or the lack of representation of spots in a pedigree, the less genetic contribution, validating the point that there is less chance for producing spotted offspring, particularly when crossed on non-spotted genetic bucks or does. The more outcrosses in a spotted animal’s pedigree, the lesser the odds for producing spots.

An animal with only a few spotted animals in its pedigree will not give you the consistency that an animal rooted many generations deep in spots will produce.

Homozygous
Homozygosity is defined as having the two alleles that are the same for a certain locus. Dominance, however, is a different concept and it is independent of Homozygosity. In addition, both dominance and Homozygosity are independent of the sex of the individual (unless the trait is X-linked). The higher the number of matched chromosome pairs, the more likely the animal will be Homozygous.
If two parents each have one copy of a recessive gene, then each offspring has a 25% (1 in 4) chance of showing the trait. If one parent has two copies of the gene and the other has one copy, then each offspring has a 50% (1 in 2) chance of showing the trait, including Homozygosity.

Unfortunately at this time there is no testing available for goats to determine Homozygosity, so the trait will only be realized by breeding results. When you look to the odds – they are in your favor when there are generations of spotted and dappled ancestors.

BREEDING DECISIONS

Our goal at MAX Boer Goats is to produce quality AND consistency.  We have been breeding spotted and dappled, full blood Boer goats longer than any breeder in business today. For years we have strived to produce consistent, competitive, colored Boer goats that will be an asset any breeding program.  Through years of trial and error, and sometimes sheer luck, we have discovered and developed Spotted and Dappled lines of excellent quality and predominance.

The Genetic Advantage comes from years of experienced production, building genetic lines by matching prepotent sires and dams in an effort to create color, consistency and quality. Our years of hard work and experience can give your herd “The Genetic Advantage”, the “Key” to having a successful spotted and dappled herd.

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NICHE MARKET ~ A FAD THAT'S HERE TO STAY
This niche market is not to be taken lightly. Don't think it's as easy as breeding traditionals, reds, or blacks. Breeders soon find that saturating the market is going to be a difficult task.

I don't think anyone really knew how appealing or valuable these "Polka Dot" Boer goats were until the 2005 dispersal sale of T4 Ranch in Texas, when a 4 year old, 75% dappled doe named POCKA DOT and her daughters sold for figures that shocked the Boer goat industry and sparked an interest in these unique animals. Five years later at Fern Hollow Farm's dispersal Sale in June of 2010, their spotted percentage and purebred does were selling strong, most commanding several thousand dollars each. At that sale three unregistered, commercial doe kids, 3 months old, brought $800 each, more than many of the registered full blood traditionals with top genetics. These prices reflected the industry's continued desire for quality Spotted and Dappled Boers. This market is not a fad, as some have said, but rather a legitimate market for a highly desirable “Designer” Boer.

MAX Boer Goats has been breeding Boer goats since 1997 and Spotted and Dappled Boer goats since 2002 when the pairing of RED HOT $ with two different does produced spotted offspring.

Interest in where these colorations came from developed into a breeding strategy that has lead to quality and consistency in coloration and production.

Having a fascination for these unusual colors and patterns was only the beginning, learning about genetics in relation to color, combined with developing consistent color and quality was the challenge.

Our Spotted & Dappled Stud Bucks are the best known in the industry and include ABGA Ennobled RED HOT DAPPLED $, IMAX 3-D and TO THE MOON, to name a few.

Several of our herd sires throw 80-90% spots and dapples, a real accomplishment when most spotted animals are only throwing 50% at best.

The bucks we use are also non-seasonal, so breeding year-around is possible. We have does kidding every month of the year.

These advantages have given us the largest Spotted and Dappled breeder's herd in the US. It also gives our clients a real advantage when it comes to choosing their animals - there is more selection and when breeding with our genetics - varied bloodlines and more generations of spots means more color and better color!

We offer Full Bloods, Purebreds, and Percentages and have Brood, Show, and Commercial Stock available. We breed all colorations and patterns of Spotted and Dappled Boers including mahogany/white, red/tan, black/white, black/tan, lemon/white, caramel/tan, and tri-colors.

We offer many different bloodlines of spotted and dappled Boer goats which we have developed and that are unique to us. We strive to produce a quality, colored goat with generations of spots behind them that will be productive and competitive.

We do not flush; all our animals are conceived naturally. Not every spotted goat we produce is sold or retained. We cull hard and offer for sale only animals that we would use in our own breeding program. We limit the number of spotted and dappled bucks that we offer each year and sell only top quality animals whose conformation, coloration and breed character will make them an excellent stud buck candidates. The cull animals are wethered, then sold as show wether prospects or sold for meat or hides.

This dedication to quality has made our spotted and dappled goats very competitive in the show ring and as producers.

Each year we are keeping current by infusing new genetics into our spotted herd. We have incorporated some of the finest genetics in the country, both old and new, into our spotted breeding program including CODI/PCI, T4 SCORPIO, T4 POCKA DOT, FHF POLKA PRADA, RRD RUGER T307 *Ennobled, TC1 RAWHIDE *Ennobled, TC1 DIESEL, Agnew's FUTURE LEGEND and 2DOX LUGER to name a few.

Our Spotted & Dappled goats are doing well in the show ring; we have many ABGA Show Champions and the first ABGA Ennobled dappled buck, Ennobled in one show season. We look forward to the Ennoblement of our herd sire, IMAX 3-D in 2011.

We are committed to producing a colored Boer that meets the demands for elegant style, eye appeal, sound structure, and muscle that will move any breeding program forward, whatever your taste in color may be.

We have done the homework for you to have a successful "Polka Dot", whether it is a single animal or an entire herd.

I personally know of four different breeders that tried to flush "polka dots" and did not get spotted results - without knowledge of what should or will work you might as well play the lottery.

Producing spots and dapples consistently is a challenge that takes several generations to accomplish. When purchasing a spotted or dappled animal with the hope of reproducing that desired coloration, on e needs to examine the pedigree closely.

An animal that has one spotted or dappled parent, whose pedigree includes one or two spotted ancestors in 2 or 3 generations is not going to give you consistent results.

When fancy, show quality animals are produced they are not inexpensive. The benefit is that these animals are desirable and good ones are not so easy find. They have value, be they commercial, percentages, or full bloods.

The interest in quality Reds, Paints, and Polka Dot Boers continues to increase with nearly every major breeder in the industry having at least one "polka dot" in their herd.

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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BOER GOAT BREED
During the early 20th century the Boer goat was being developed and improved in South Africa; many breeds of goats were used to develop the breed included goats indigenous to Africa as well as European Dairy breeds. By mid-century the breed was in full development and was just beginning to look similar to the Boer goat we recognize today. Following the practices of "selective breeding" and culling, the Boer goat as we know it today was developed. The Boer goats were selectively bred for many traits, including to be red headed with white bodies, and in the process any animals with "color faults" (such as reds, paints and dapples) were culled. This practice continues to this day in South Africa.

*In 1931 Mr. W.G. Jordaan was improving his goat herd in Somerset East, South Africa. He purchased a "very large dapple-colored buck" from breeder, Mr. I.B. van Heerden of Kaalplass, Cradock and bred that buck to his predominately red headed, white bodied does. From these animals the earliest registered, breeding stock Boer goats were developed. In 1959 breeding, selection and documentation of the Boer goats became regulated by the foundation of the Boer Goat Breeders' Association of South Africa. (*Reference: The Boer Goat -Outstanding Producer of Red Meat from Low Quality Grazing by Quentin Peter Campbell)

*The reds were also color culls, pulled from the traditional herds and run in separate herds; and as late as 2004 the Kalahari Red breed registry was established in South Africa.

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"HOW DID YOU GET THAT?" ~ RESEARCH & RECORD KEEPING
When breeding for spots or dapples you can either play roulette or play it smart.

Knowing what to buy, what to breed to, what not to breed are all elements of a successful spotted breeding program.

When breeding for colors or patterns you have to remember there are two different genes.

1. The Recessive which is a heritable characteristic controlled by a gene that is expressed in offspring only inherited from both parents.

2. Dominant Genetics (of a heritable characteristic) controlled by a gene that is expressed in offspring inherited from only one parent.

First generation full blood spotted and dappled goats are cropouts. A cropout is an animal with a sire and dam who both appeared to have been non-spotted. There are multiple genetic reasons that may cause a goat to be a cropout, originating from recessive spotted lineage. Sometimes solid-colored goats throw cropout spots or dapples because some spotting patterns are recessive genes that are not necessarily expressed unless the relevant allele is inherited from both parents. Other times a gene may be a dominant or incomplete dominant, but so minimally expressed that the goat looks solid but can pass flashy color on to its offspring.

The spots and dapples in the Boer goat are genetic throwbacks. First generation spots or dapples are a rare phenomenon, an unexpected occurrence.These animals will produce some spots; however, they will not produce the quantity of spots or dappling that an animal generations deep in spots or dapples will produce. It is with these first and second- generation animals that a base must be built in order to acquire spots or dapples on a more regular basis. From experience we have found there are several bloodlines with a "common thread" that will work when developing the spotted genetics.

A goal that we have recognized has been to breed spots and dapples that are generations deep in spotted genetics, this in turn increases the likelihood for consistency in producing spots and dapples - not just a few here and there as happens with first, second generation animals.

To achieve optimal results knowledge of what to breed is an advantage that is learned through years of breeding, research, and record keeping.

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A FEW FACTS
*The more generations of spots or dapples there are behind an animal, the more likely your chances for spotted or dappled offspring. First and second-generation spots and dapples throw fewer loudly patterned offspring.

* Breeding spots to spots will often result in no spots at all.

* An animal from spotted lineage, exhibiting even one spot, carries the spotted gene and can throw spots.

* A dilute spot on a goat that does not come spotted lineage is like a red spot on a traditional goat or a star on the head of a red goat, in no way does it mean that that animal will produce spotted offspring

* Not every, or any, buck or doe bred to spots will produce spotted offspring.

* Just because you get spots one time from a breeding pair one time doesn't necessarily mean that you will get the same results the next time.

* Goats can be both spotted and dappled at the same time.

* The hides of these beautiful animals can be tanned creating an added market value.

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CAPRINE CHAMELEONS

Some individuals coloring will change dramatically from birth to maturity coloration. Goats can be born solid and develop dappling, or born red with black spots that turn tan over the course of time, grey areas will turn golden tan, white areas will stay white.

Even as these animals mature, their coats can develop colorations not visible at birth; spots and dappling and white hairs can appear during the first year and a half of life. An animal from spotted lineage, exhibiting even one spot, carries the spotted gene. A white or black bodied goat from spotted lineage can be carrying the spotted gene but it can be masked by the solid color.

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PATTERNS
There are several color patterns for these animals often termed as "Polka dots".

STARTING A SPOTTED HERD ON A SHOESTRING
If you have a desire for spots and dapples in your herd but don't have the need or desire to purchase show quality animals, there are cost effective alternatives.

Everyone wants the loudly colored animals, but remember the not so loudly colored animals can produce spots too. Minimally spotted, solid and paint offspring of spotted and dappled parents can produce spots in the next generation as well, and these animals are generally more affordable and can give you a start in the spotted goat business.

A commercial spotted buck can also give your herd that addition of spotted genetics that will allow you to add spots to your doe base and then breed those does to a full blood Boer to produce register-able 50% does and continue to breed-up.

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PURCHASING CONSIDERATIONS
The fastest way to give your herd an injection of spots is to purchase a Spotted or Dappled buck.

First and foremost, purchase the best animal you possibly can for your budget.

The best situation is to purchase an acclimated weanling or older animal that has been evaluated thoroughly. At this point you have a good idea of exactly what you are getting.

We do not evaluate or price our animals until an adjustment period following weaning. An evaluation prior to that can often lead to buyer’s remorse, as animals can change dramatically from birth to weaning, stress after weaning or worse they can be lost.

There are so many variables to consider when buying: How many generations of spots / dapples are in the animal's background? Is the animal show or brood quality? How is the animal's conformation? What are the teat structure, bite, and pigment like? How does this animal track? Many of these things simply cannot be determined prior to weaning.

* When justifying the cost of a full blood spotted or dappled sire or show / flush quality doe, you need to keep in mind that as few good offspring (even one) can easily pay for your investment.

Quality will always command a better price and well known genetics will give you an advantage.

*We also offer experienced breeding advice to our customers and will assist by finding transport for your new animals, if necessary.

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