Your Goat’s DNA Could Be the Clincher for Your Goat Pedigree

A little look into DNA testing and a unique approach.

Your Goat’s DNA Could Be the Clincher for Your Goat Pedigree

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Peggy Boone, owner of IGSCR-IDGR  

Ethel’s story: 

I am Ethel. Peggy purchased me in 2010, but when I was young nobody chose to keep records of my birth or parents or even register me. But Peggy believed I was a purebred Nigerian Dwarf and she also that I would provide value to her herd of dairy goats in milk production and conformation. 

When I went to a show, the judge said he wished this one registered goat in my class had as perfect of an udder as I have. My udder is very high and tight, with great fore-udder and medial attachments. It deflates well, and I’m super easy to milk. I produced half a gallon a day at peak. 

Even though I have passed on, I have left a lasting legacy in Peggy’s herd. She believed in me, even though others didn’t.  

Peggy now owns the dairy goat registry that showed who I really am. She even had the DNA lab create a Nigerian Dwarf Purity (breed comparison) test, to see if there were other breeds in my background. My great-granddaughter Northern Dawn CCJ Stripe’s Choco Moon was used to test the accuracy of the new Nigerian Dwarf DNA Purity test, with a score of .812. My great-granddaughter shows no other breeds, except for Nigerian Dwarf. While I have a body style like the older Nigerian Dwarfs, Choco Moon is very refined. If you didn’t know that my pedigree is unknown, you would swear that Choco Moon was a 100% purebred Nigerian Dwarf. So yes, I have stamped a strong mark on Peggy’s herd. I want to thank her for believing in me. 

How does DNA testing help out registrations? 

Some goat registries request DNA samples to verify parentage. All too often we, as breeders, don’t have time to put identification on our babies at birth. After a time, many babies look the same, or there may be a buck breakout. Some are bred using the wild or commercial herd techniques, where multiple bucks or does are put together. There are those few breeders who either knowingly or unknowingly say that an animal is this breed or goat, when in fact it is quite the opposite. There times of pure deception. Many registries run across this, so this is where Parentage testing comes into play. 

At International Goat, Sheep, Camelid Registry we have gone one step further. We partnered with a DNA lab and are creating a breed purity (comparison) test for Nigerian Dwarf and Nubian goats. This is no small feat, because most goat breeds are new enough in breed creation that there just is not enough DNA to test all breeds for purity. The test does not necessarily show what herd book level the goat should be in (Grade, American, or Purebred), perhaps because each creates their herd books just a little differently. We have found that this test seems pretty accurate for picking out various breeds that might be in a goat’s DNA.   

Ethel’s excellent udder. Photo by Peggy Boone.

So how can a DNA Purity test help in a registration certificate and pedigree? So many goats out there are registered but no ID is placed on them. Many purebred goats have no information, often because of defiance of identification laws, or breeders not knowing why they should keep records and registrations. It also happens due to politics within many registries.   

We at IGSCR are working with a little Nigerian Dwarf doe whose sire’s registration paper was lost. All her other ancestors are registered. This little gal has old Nigerian Dwarf bloodlines and has immaculate conformation and udder. She is an amazing doe. So, for registration purposes, we suggested that her owner does the DNA Purity test. 

DNA Testing for Registrations and Pedigree: 

Marker: basis all other DNA tests. 

Parentage: use of Marker of offspring against parents to determine who is the dam and/or sire. 

Purity: testing for breed purity levels and shows if there are any goat breeds in the animal of the twelve breeds tested. 

How to sample for DNA: 

Take hair from a clean dry place on the body such as brisket, withers hips.  Use pliers near the skin and take a quick jerk. You want the hair follicle and the hair. Place hair in a clean paper envelop and seal it. Write full name of goat on the sample. 

How IGSCR and the lab created the Purity Test for Nigerian Dwarf and Nubian: 

  • No preconceived notion of what breed the goat could or should be.  
  • Breeds tested were Alpine (American), Boer, Kiko, LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf (modern version), Nubian, Oberhasli, Pygmy (American), Saanen (American), Savanna, Spanish goat, Toggenburg. 
  • Q-value ratings were created from analysis: .8 or higher inclusion into the breed, .7-.8 grey zone (Suggestive crossbreeding), .1-.7 indicative of crossbreeding. 
  • IGSCR asked members for DNA of known crossbreds and grades. Our goal was to completely mess up the lab test, as we created the test. We wanted to show if it would show crossbreeding and what breeds. Also, to see if the goats who should be of no other breed showed as the herd level that we have placed the animal in. We found the test to be quite accurate. 
  • Nigerian Dwarf limitation. Many of us are quite confident that many of the modern Nigerian Dwarfs are not actually fully West African descent, but rather WAD crossed with other breeds back in early years to create more showing goats. What we are left with currently are tests of using the modern Nigerian Dwarf. We, at IGSCR, are searching for herds who trace back to direct West African Dwarf imports, for DNA. 


Peggy Boone and her husband live on a little plot of land in Utah. They raise dairy goats and Peggy also runs the small dairy goat registry International Goat, Sheep, Camelid Registry (formerly IDGR). Her interests are the natural raising of livestock, genealogy, horses. Contact the IGSCR and Peggy Boone at https://www.igscr-idgr.com/ and idgrfiber@gmail.com. 

Originally published in the July/August 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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