Glimmercroft - Mini Lamancha Ear Genetics

Laura Workman, Glimmercroft, Lynnwood, Washington

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As I understand it, the gene for tiny ears is co-dominant, and is not sex-linked.  Do you know about analyzing genetics using a Punnett Square?  If not, heres a link that explains the concept.  Basically, you use the square to come up with all the combinations of genes possible from breeding two particular individuals, each having a single pair of genes.

Breed standard requires that does have elf or gopher ears, and that bucks have only gopher ears.  Every goat has two ear genes.  Since the tiny ear gene is dominant, Ill use a capital letter for that one.  Lets use G for gopher.  Upright ears being recessive, lets use a lower-case u for upright.  With Lamanchas, a goat with the two genes GG will have gopher ears, a goat with Gu genes will have elf ears, and one with uu genes will have upright ears. 

Here's a Punnett Square for F1 Mini Lamanchas.  The Nigerian buck "uu" is at the top of the square.  The Lamancha doe "GG" is down the left side of the square.  The possible combinations of genes in the kids are the four squares in the middle. 

F1 u u (Upright-eared
Nigerian buck)
G Gu Gu  
G Gu Gu  
Lamancha doe)

In this example, the kids are all "Gu", which means they will all have elf ears.  (Of course, this would be different if, say, the doe were elf-eared rather than gopher-eared.)

Then we progress to the second generation, breeding those F1 elf-eared animals to one another.

F2 G u (F1 Elf-eared buck)
G GG Gu  
u Gu uu  
(F1 Elf-eared doe)      

25% of F2 kids will have gopher ears, 50 percent will have elf ears, and 25 percent will have upright ears.  It kind of looks like were moving away from the standard, since were now getting kids with upright ears, but in fact, were in much better shape because we now have a chance to produce that ultimate breeding animal (with respect to ears), the GOPHER-EARED BUCK.  (The buck is much more important here only because he will potentially have so many more offspring than any one doe.)

Now consider what happens when you finally get that F2 (or later) gopher-eared buck.  Say you have a really nice F2 doe that has upright ears.  You put her with the gopher-eared buck, and you get . . .

F2 G G (F2 Gopher-eared buck)
u Gu Gu  
u Gu Gu  
(F2 Upright-eared doe)      

All kids will have elf ears, NO upright ears.  All doelings are now to breed standard.  However, none of the bucklings will be to breed standard.

If you put that same gopher eared buck with an elf-eared doe . . .

F2 G G (F2 Gopher-eared buck)
u Gu Gu  
(Elf-eared doe)      

50 percent of kids will have elf ears and 50 percent will have gopher ears.  Again, all doelings are now to breed standard, and its likely youll have at least some bucklings that make breed standard as well.

Of course, optimal is putting the gopher-eared buck with a gopher-eared doe . . .

F2 G G (F2 Gopher-eared buck)
(Gopher-eared doe)      

In this instance, every doeling AND EVERY BUCKLING born will have gopher ears, so you have that much more opportunity to have a really outstanding buck kid that ALSO meets the breed standard for ears and can be registered as an American.  Additionally, that buckling will NEVER sire doelings that have ears that do not meet the breed standard.

Insisting that any breeding buck after the first generation must have gopher ears means that every doeling third generation or later will meet the breed standard with regard to ears, regardless of what the dam's ears are like.  Standing firm on this issue is the fastest way for the breed to progress toward the ultimate goal goats that consistently meet the Lamancha breed standard in every respect except size.  This is why I keep wethering gorgeous F2 and later bucklings that have elf ears.  Its hard, but I think its best for the breed in the long run.

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This page updated March 14, 2007.

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