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International Program Also Delivers Benefits to U.S. Goat Producers

The USDA-USAID Livestock Improvement Project is an 8-year international program to enhance genetic gains made in local goat populations. Project scientists led development of a new model to construct high-quality reference genomes at a fraction of the cost along with enhanced DNA tools, both of which hold promise for American goat producers. The project’s DNA sample bank underpins all aspects of goat research, allowing researchers to identify traits deemed desirable, such as increased weight and milk production.

American farmers can use this information to design a program that will help them produce resilient and productive goats and improve their economic bottom line. Project researchers also developed software to predict a goat’s body weight by analyzing color images of goats taken by cell phone. Animal weight is critical in monitor- ing animal health and growth and for marketing live animals. In Africa, the project created community-based breeding programs and the African Goat Improvement Network, a collection of nearly 70 representatives from over 20 countries, to ensure the continual improvement of local goats.

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