RONAN COUNTRY FIBERS
Breeding Angora Goats for Color

Angora goats were breed for pure lustrous white fiber for centuries.  Kids born with color were destroyed as impure. This was perpetuated in modern commercial flocks when color was considered a contaminate of the white mohair. White is therefore by far the most common and "dominate" color when breeding Angora goats. Breeding for color goes against those centuries of attempts to eliminate color.

 

Despite those attempts, colored Angora goats still showed up periodically.

  • Angora kids may be born with color to two AAGBA (the white registry) parents. This was often a red kid which faded to white as the animal matured. Some of these kids were registered as white with AAGBA (American Angora Goat Breeders Association) and some were culled.
  • Colored Angora kids may have resulted from unintentional matings with Angora goats and Spanish or other goat breeds.
  • Colored kids were intentionally developed from crossing Angoras with dairy breeds, Spanish goats, Pygmy goats or any other breed with color.

With the growing attraction of natural fibers and natural colors, it became a goal to formally develop naturally colored Angora goats.  The Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association was established in 1999 to develop and promote Colored Angora Goats. 

 

One would think that breeding a colored Angora doe to a colored Angora buck would produce colored Angora kids.  It’s not that simple.  Understanding and following a few rules will allow you to get predictable results in your breeding program.

 

We started with several white color carriers and colored Angora goats from mixed or unknown color genetics.  We had to quickly learn the basics of color genetics and develop a clear plan to breed for color.

 

We have been raising Angora goats for 13 years (as of 2013) and no longer have goats from “unknown” color genetics or unregistered goats in our herd.  We’ve been successful in our breeding program and are happy to share our experience with others. 

 

Color Pools

If you identify which color pool an Angora goat belongs to, and breed that goat to a mate from the same color pool, you can get predictable color.  If, however, you don’t know the color pool your goat belongs to or you breed two goats from different color pools, you most likely will get white or faded red kids.  Faded red are kids born with some red/peach color but that color fades to white by time their true mohair grows in.  It is frustrating to get white kids when breeding for color.

 

Red/Black/Brown color pool – also called “dominant”

There is nothing “dominant” about this color pool but that is an early term applied to this color group and that term is now commonly used.  Goats in this category include:

·       Red and brown solid colored Angora goats regardless of which pool their parents are from.

·       White, pintos and solid black Angora goats when both sire and dam are in the dominant color pool (note exception below).

 

Black color pool – also called “recessive” or “agouti”

Just like “dominant” does not mean “prevailing”, “recessive” does not mean “hidden”.  Goats in this category include:

·       Striped goats; badgers and reverse badgers regardless of which pool their parents are from.

·       White, pintos and solid black Angora goats when both sire and dam are in the recessive color pool.

 

Exceptions and Points to Ponder

1.    This paper is based on our experience and it works practically 100% of the time to produce colored Angora goat kids.  It works and it is SIMPLE. 

We keep our two color pools separate.  We like clear, identifiable and dependable breeding groups; Dominant & Recessive.  Because we do not like using or selling “unknowns”, we do limited crossing between the two groups.  We have the quality of goats we want in both color pools so we have no need to do experimental crossing to improve quality.  It is, however, fun sometimes to try an experiment for some reason.  If the resulting kids from such matings are red or brown, great. They belong to the Dominant group.  If the resulting kids are striped (badger or reverse badger), great; they belong to the Recessive group.  It is the white or black off-spring that must be tested to see which color pool they belong to.  Choose wrong and you get more white off-spring.  Even if you choose correctly, you have a good chance of getting white simply because one of the parents is white!  So, do you breed back to the same color pool or try the other color pool?  Either way, white is always a possibility. 

The uncertainty is why we don’t like experimenting.  We don’t want to produce whites or faded reds. In addition to producing high quality Angora goats, we want deep color and patterns so we usually avoid crossed breedings.  We experiment with those crossings occasionally.  Between 2001 and 2012, we have the following results from experimental breedings between Recessive and Dominant:

a.     78% White kids

b.     8% red/brown kids

c.    8% black kid

d.     6% badger kids

78% white kids are not acceptable for us.  Additionally, the black kids are now “unknowns” because black exists in both pools.  That gave us 86% of the kids with unknown color genetics.  Not acceptable for us.

We also tracked our results when using a cross-over goat (one dominant parent and one recessive parent) or one from unknown color pools in breeding.  Those cross-over goats produced 67% white and 12% black off-spring which are unknown based on our color analysis.  That is 79% kids with unknown color genetics.  This is also not acceptable for us.

When following our dominant to dominant and recessive to recessive breeding, we’ve had only three white kids (less than 1%) in 13 years and only one of them was in the last 5 years.  This is the kind of reliable results we want.  This is why we limit our experimentation.

2.    Because of the generations of culling colored Angora goats, some white or faded reds are possible even with selective and careful breeding.  The closer the off-spring are to registered white parentage, the more likely white can result.

3.    Some breeders do not follow the color pool breeding rules and welcome any off-spring including white and faded reds.  This random breeding can produce colored off-spring though it is less predictable.  Colored or white off-spring from mixed color pools presents a challenge in trying to know which color pool they should be bred to for predictable color. Will they breed recessive or dominant?

The challenge here is that when mixed pool off-spring are bred to either pool, they may produce white or faded red with either pool or they may also produce color with both color pools.  Because we want predictable results, we avoid mixed pool goats who are pintos, blacks or whites.  Reviewing the criteria above, you will see that striped goats are always in the recessive pool and reds/browns are always in the dominant pool regardless of their parentage.

Our first white color carrier does never produced color for us (other than faded red or faded grey) and they were bred repeatedly to both the recessive and dominant bucks.  Their off-spring never produced color.  We no longer have any of those unknowns.  We do, however, have white color carrier from KNOWN parents that produce predictable color bred to bucks from their color pool.

4.     We follow a simple and proven formula for producing predictable color. We do not follow the science behind the results.  There are ample color genetics documents for those interested in studying the science of color genetics.  Dr. Phil Sponenberg has several exceptional articles listed on the CAGBA website.  These are scientifically factual articles.  Too often, even seasoned breeders focus on the exception that cropped up in their herd and disregard the reliability of those facts.  Exceptions happen!  It does not discredit the facts of breeding for color in Angora goats.

5.     If you do not know which color pool your pinto, black or white goat belongs to, breed them to a striped goat (badger or reverse badger) to have the best chance of getting colored off-spring.

6.    We have AAGBA white goats in both our recessive lines and our dominant lines.  Our first generation kids are usually white (or have pale red or grey points).  When those off-spring are bred back to the same color pool as their one colored parent, they usually produce color.  If we get white the 2nd generation, we will breed them back again to the same color pool and get color. Even if we get white in breeding the 2nd generation, we use the 3rd generation for color production.  The AAGBA whites help bring in breed quality and fiber quality that helps to continually improve the quality of the colored Angoras.  The AAGBA white Angoras still set the standard for colored Angora breeders to strive for.

7.     Following this formula, here are some interesting notes:

a.     If two known recessive goats produce a red kid, that red kid belongs to the Dominant color pool.  Look at the rule above under “Dominant” that says: “Red and brown solid colored Angora goats regardless of which pool their parents are from.”

b.  If two red/brown goats produce a black or striped kid, it will belong to the Recessive color pool.  Some breeders say this can’t happen.  It does and the breeding back to a recessive for color is proven.

You would think that breeding a colored Angora doe to a colored Angora buck would produce colored Angora kids. It’s not that simple. Understanding and following a few rules will allow you to get predictable results in your breeding program.

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