Last update: November 24, 2010 12:14:07 PM E-mail Print




P G Marais, & J C Scheltema*


Grootfontein Agricultural College, Middelburg, 5900, Eastern Cape, South Africa

* Department of Agriculture Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, 6000. South Africa

Stud breeders and farmers have considered body conformation or shape in goats an important trait. This trait can be assessed on either carcass or live animals for slaughter and breeding. Nevertheless, there is no single universally accepted definition of the term body conformation across the goat industry. The use of the word body conformation in the goat industry is further confused by the fact that different indices are used to describe a complex 3-dimensional shape, which causes variation in the interpretation of results. One objective of this study was to examine the relationship of immature body dimensions of Boer goats to subsequent growth and efficiency under veld conditions. A second objective was to establish the relationship of size and form to growth characteristics in the animal. A third objective was to evaluate the abilities of three judges to do the visual appraisals on Iambs and adult ewes. Available data from the Adelaide Boer goat flock in the Eastern Cape was used. Three different qualified Boer goat judges were used to describe every animal according to the Boer goat breeding standards. Data was analysed according to the Principal Components Analysis (PCA) method. It was found that significant differences between judges occur, based on their preconceived notion of the ideal animal. Some of the judges regarded conformation to be the most important characteristic of the Iamb whereas one of the Judges regarded pigmentation to be the most important characteristic. For adult ewes, conformation was regarded to be the most important factor. One of the judges succeeded throughout the study in allocating the heavier weight to be the most important characteristic.