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Open Access Methodology article

Optimized diffusion of buck semen for saving genetic variability in selected dairy goat populations

Jean-Jacques Colleau1*, Virginie Clément2, Pierre Martin3 and Isabelle Palhière4

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UMR1313, Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France

2 Institut de l'Elevage, 31321 Castanet-Tolosan, France

3 Capgenes, Agropole, 86550 Mignaloux-Beauvoir, France

4 INRA, UR631 Station d'Amélioration Génétique des Animaux, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France

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BMC Genetics 2011, 12:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-12-25

Published: 9 February 2011



Current research on quantitative genetics has provided efficient guidelines for the sustainable management of selected populations: genetic gain is maximized while the loss of genetic diversity is maintained at a reasonable rate. However, actual selection schemes are complex, especially for large domestic species, and they have to take into account many operational constraints. This paper deals with the actual selection of dairy goats where the challenge is to optimize diffusion of buck semen on the field. Three objectives are considered simultaneously: i) natural service buck replacement (NSR); ii) goat replacement (GR); iii) semen distribution of young bucks to be progeny-tested. An appropriate optimization method is developed, which involves five analytical steps. Solutions are obtained by simulated annealing and the corresponding algorithms are presented in detail.


The whole procedure was tested on two French goat populations (Alpine and Saanen breeds) and the results presented in the abstract were based on the average of the two breeds. The procedure induced an immediate acceleration of genetic gain in comparison with the current annual genetic gain (0.15 genetic standard deviation unit), as shown by two facts. First, the genetic level of replacement natural service (NS) bucks was predicted, 1.5 years ahead at the moment of reproduction, to be equivalent to that of the progeny-tested bucks in service, born from the current breeding scheme. Second, the genetic level of replacement goats was much higher than that of their dams (0.86 unit), which represented 6 years of selection, although dams were only 3 years older than their replacement daughters. This improved genetic gain could be achieved while decreasing inbreeding coefficients substantially. Inbreeding coefficients (%) of NS bucks was lower than that of the progeny-tested bucks (-0.17). Goats were also less inbred than their dams (-0.67).


It was possible to account for complex operational constraints while developing goat selection schemes, both efficient and sustainable. Therefore, the recommended selection and mating decisions might receive attention from goat breeders using both AI and NS.