Genetic Selection

Basic Principles of Selection

Traits of Importance in Selection

Selection Methods


In each generation of animals in his herd or flock, the breeder must select those to be saved for breeding from those to be used for other purposes. Perhaps he will also select animals from other herds for use as breeders in his. These are the most important things he does.” Breeding Better Livestock. Rice, Andrews, and Warwick 1953. Selection of breeding stock is critical to the success of all livestock producers.The publications in this section will help you better understand the principles of selection.This section will also help guide you in determining what traits you should be selecting for and how to measure progress towards your goals.

Many different types of information is available to goat producers, including individual performance, pedigree information, show records and visual inspection. All of these have some value when selecting replacements or purchasing new breeding stock; however, the usefulness of each differs greatly.

Selection for improvement in livestock is not a new process. In ancient Greece the more progressive producers realized that animals tended to produce offspring more similar to themselves so better parents produced better offspring. To better select for improvements in desired traits, individual producers started selecting for specific traits of interest and started using pedigrees to assist in this practice.

Today, production records play a critical role in selection for greater productivity. It is often said that “you cannot manage what you don’t measure,and this is especially true in livestock production. The way we measure productivity is through the keeping and utilization of performance and health records. These records are then utilized to select replacement breeding stock from the highest performing animals. As the goat industry grows, the importance of records for the marketing of breeding stock will increase. This need is driving the development of expected progeny differences (EPD) by breed associations and the popularity of buck test programs in many states.

Reference: Breeding Better Livestock. V.A. Rice, F. N. Andrews, and E. J. Warwick. McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc. 1953.

Writen by Dr. Ken Andries, Kentucky State University.