S U S A N S C H O E N I A N
S H E E P & G O A T S P E C I A L I S T
U N I V E R S I T Y O F M A R Y L A N D E X T E N S I O N
S S C H O E N @ U M D . E D U
W W W . S H E E P A N D G O A T . C O M
The value of EBVs for the
US meat goat industry
What is an EBV?
EBV is an acronym. It stands for
Estimated Breeding Value.
An EBV quantifies the genetic
merit of an animal (for breeding).
It is a mathematical, computer-
generated prediction of an animal
for economically-important traits.
For anyone familiar with EPDs
(used in cattle), an EBV is twice the
value of an EPD (P=progeny).
EBVs can be calculated for any trait
for which data can be collected.
Another acronym. What is NSIP?
NSIP stands for National Sheep
NSIP is the organization that
provides EBVs for the US sheep
and goat industry.
NSIP data is processed by Sheep
Genetics in Australia; there is both
a LAMBPLAN and a KIDPLAN.
Other animal industries and
countries have similar programs.
Small ruminant dairy producers
should use DHIA, not NSIP.
What traits does NSIP measure?
EBVs currently available through KIDPLAN
Number of kids born (NKB, %)
Number of kids weaned (NKW, %)
Scrotal circumference (SC, cm)
Live weight traits
Birth weight (BWT, kg)
Weaning weight (WWT, kg)
Maternal weaning weight (MWWT, kg)
Post-weaning weight (PWWT, kg)
Yearling weight (YWT, kg )
Hogget weight (HWT, kg)
Adult weight (AWT, kg)
Fat depth (FAT)
(post-weaning, yearling, hogget)
Eye muscle depth (EMD)
(post-weaning, yearling, hogget)
Carcass weight (CWT)
Worm egg count
Boer Goat $ Index
Carcass Plus Index
Indexes for Australian goat producers
Boer Goat $
What might an index for Kikos look like?
Trait EBV Contribution
Number of kids weaned NKW 50
Maternal milk MWWT 15
Weaning weight WWT 15
Worm egg count PWEC 20
Katahdin (hair sheep) Ewe Breed Index
0.246 x WWT EBV + 2.226 x MWWT EBV + 0.406 x NLW EBV – 0.035 x NLB EBV
Add PWWT (post-weaning weight) and EMD (eye muscle depth) or CWT
(carcass weight) to create multi-purpose index
1. Herd EBVs 2. (Across-herd) EBVs
Within-herd EBVs are
calculated when a herd is
not connected to other
EBVs on individual
animals can only be
compared to animals in
the same herd.
Herd has genetic linkages
with other NSIP herds.
EBVs from individual
animals can be compared
to EBVs from individuals
in other herds, regardless
of geographic location or
There are two kinds of EBVs.
T H E S E C H A R A C T E R I S T I C S A R E T H E A N I M A L ’ S
P H E N O T Y P E . T H E Y I N C L U D E T R A I T S W H I C H
W E C A N M E A S U R E O R O B S E R V E .
All animals have a set of
characteristics that represent
their value to a producer.
Fecal egg count
. . . and many more.
Phenotype is the result of the animal’s
genetics (genotype), as well as the
environment in which it was/is raised.
Most (75-90%) of the differences we see
between animals are the result of
environment, management, and/or chance.
The remaining differences are the
result of genetics.
This may seem small, but
genetics is permanent and
EBVs help identify the portion of
differences that are due to
EBVs are more accurate than on-
farm and centralized testing.
How are EBVs are calculated?
EBVs are calculated by
accounting for known
sources of variation for
each (phenotypic) trait.
Production environment Fixed effects
Adjustment factors are used to
correct for fixed effects of
differences in environment.
Adjustment factors standardize
traits (e.g. weaning weights) to a
common birth and rearing type.
Type of birth (single)
Type of rearing (single)
Age of dam (3-6 years)
Environment is a large source of variation.
The effect of genetics on a trait varies.
The variation in the
proportion of genetics on
a certain trait is called
Moderate to high (25-55%)
Moderate to high (25-50%)
Number of kids born is only ~10% heritable.
EBVs account for relationships between animals.
Offspring inherit roughly
50% of their genes from
their sire and 50% of their
genes from their dam.
Half-sibs share about 25%
of their genes.
First cousins share
approximately 12.5% of
animals share some genes.
EBVs account for genetic correlations.
Most performance traits are not
controlled by a single gene, but
rather have multiple genes that
control the genetic portion of
Positive correlations mean that
increases in one trait will result
in increases in another trait.
For example: birth weight (BWT)
and weaning weight (WWT) have
a genetic correlation of 0.3.
On the other hand, some traits
have negative genetic correlations,
such as staple length (SL) and
fiber diameter (FD).
EBVs are calculated from…
1. Data for trait measured.
E.g. weaning weight
2. Data from correlated
birth weight, post-weaning weight
3. Date from relatives.
sire, dam, siblings, cousins, distant relatives
4. Factoring in heritability.
EBVs are comparisons to
the herd or NSIP breed
Strength of EBVs is highly
dependent on three concepts.
What is a contemporary group?
A group of kids that are
born within 45 days of
each other and have been
managed the same way.
Same health protocol
groups have at least two
sires and enough offspring
(usually at least 20) from
each sire. A “management” group.
These aren’t contemporary groups.
Kids born in different seasons or
more than 45 days apart.
Kids whose dams were separated
for preferential feeding or grazing.
Creep-fed vs. non creep-fed kids.
Kids raised in different locations.
Kids removed for artificial rearing.
Importance of genetic linkages
When animals share
some percentage of the
Genetic linkages provide
a means to compare the
performance of animals
in different herds.
Genetic linkages are best
accomplished by using
the same male in two or
more participating herds.
What are EBV accuracy values?
A measure of confidence in an
How representative is the EBV of
the animal’s true breeding value?
Accuracy values range from 0 to
The higher the accuracy value is,
the more confident we can be in
Accuracy values are affected by…
The amount of performance data that is
available on the animal and its parents.
The heritability of the trait.
The size of the group in which the
animal was compared.
Who should enroll in NSIP?
Purebred producers who want to
improve the accuracy of their selection.
Producers whose herds are large
enough to use multiple sires and have
enough animals to create meaningful
Producers who can provide pedigree
data (single sire matings) on progeny.
Producers who are willing to measure,
record, and submit the required data;
many producers are already collecting
the necessary data.
Producers who have or are willing to
create genetic linkages with other
NSIP IS SCIENCE-BASED, INDUSTRY-TESTED.
Participation in NSIP
Other breeds have fewer than 3
There are only four meat goat
herds currently enrolled in NSIP.
Source: NSIP, Feb. 10, 2016
Can producers with small herds in NSIP?
Anyone can enroll their herd in
Small herds should purchase or
lease bucks with EBVs.
Small herds need to use two
sires for breeding.
Rate of genetic progress will be
slower with small herds.
Herd EBVs instead of (across-
herd) EBVs can be calculated, if
there are no connections to
other NSIP herds.
30 does of same breed
• E B V s a r e e q u a l l y b e n e f i c i a l
t o s h e e p a n d g o a t p r o d u c e r s .
• W h i l e N S I P u s e s s h e e p
t e r m i n o l o g y ( e w e , r a m , a n d
l a m b ) , i t c o u l d c h a n g e i f
m o r e g o a t p r o d u c e r s w e r e
e n r o l l e d i n N S I P .
• S h e e p G e n e t i c s A u s t r a l i a a l s o
h a s a K I D P L A N .
• D r . K e n A n d r i e s f r o m
K e n t u c k y S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y i s
N S I P c o o r d i n a t o r f o r g o a t s .
I’m a goat producer. Why
should I enroll in the National
Sheep Improvement Program?
Purebred producer Commercial producer
Enroll your herd in NSIP and
use EBVs to improve your
accuracy of selection for
economically important traits.
Purchase breeding stock,
especially bucks, with above
average EBVs or indexes
(enrolled and non-enrolled
herds; small herds).
Establish values for your
Purchase bucks with
above-average EBVs or
Direct from breeder
How would I use EBVs in my herd?
Balanced selection Single trait selection
Choose animals that are
above-average in all traits.
“Breed the best to the
Use indexes to help make
Focus on small number of
Correct problem in herd
Create elite herd for specific
Need to be beware of
(problems) that can results with
single or narrow trait selection.
How would I use EBVs to select better animals?
Match production system and goals to EBVs.
If you sell 40-lb. kids, put selection
emphasis on weaning weights, not
In pasture-based operations, it is
important to select for parasite
resistance (low worm egg counts).
Select for number of kids weaned
and against number of kids born to
favor does that raise their kids.
Prolific herds may want to select
for maternal weaning weights to
reduce number of orphan kids.
Date of birth
Sire and dam info
Post weaning weight
Worm egg counts
(weaning, post-weaning, adult)
Ultrasound scan data
What do I need to measure and record?
How do I enroll my herd in NSIP?
Go to NSIP.org
Print and fill out the enrollment
Send with check to NSIP.
Enrollment fees are waived for
first year members and for three
years for members younger than
22 (as of 1/1/16).
However, there is a $100 data
fee deposit (is refunded after
data is submitted).
Start collecting and entering
Annual enrollment Data fee
Based on size of herd
$2.50 x doe
$25 for additional breed
• Capped at $400
- $25 early bird credit
Based on number of
kids with post birth
$2.85 per animal,
designated as culls or
Covers lifetime of animal.
How much do EBVs cost?
Herd with 40 does
$100 + (40 x $2.50) = $200
Will EBVs make me money?
The primary purpose of EBVs
(and EPDs) is to make genetic
improvements in your own herd
(i.e. increase profitability).
There is an increasing
demand for sheep with EBVs.
SW Virginia Ram Test
Center of the Nation
NSIP Sale (Iowa)
Montana Ram Sale
NSIP sale in East [?]
Goats (eventually ?)Buck with an EBV of +10.0 for NKW
Daughters will produce 0.10 more kids
That’s 10 more kids per 100 kiddings
10 extra kids x $150/kid = $1500
Buck with EBV of +3.0 for WWT
Progeny will be 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) heavier at
weaning than average
3.3 lbs x $2.50/lb = $7.26/kid
50 kids x $7.26 = $363
100 kids x $7.26 = $726
Tips for making NSIP/EBVs work for you.
Collect the right data at the
Plan breeding groups to
Cooperate with other NSIP
Be patient and trust the
Select doe replacements for
Make purchasing decisions.
Make culling decisions.
Select herd sire(s)
Increase the accuracy of selection for
Set value of breeding stock.
Increase profitability of enterprise.
Improve productivity of breed.
Tell if an animal is structurally
Tell if an animal has good
Tell if an animal has good breed
Tell if an animal has a genetic
defect (e.g. bad bite).
Replace visual appraisal.
Force you to make the right
What EBVs can and can’t do
MAYBE, MAYBE NOT
EBVs identify poor
performing animals .
Animals without EBVs
could be genetically
superior (or inferior), but
there is no way of knowing.
Are animals with EBVs better
than animals without EBVs?
“If you don’t measure it,
you can’t manage it.”
N A T I O N A L S H E E P I M P R O V E M E N T P R O G R A M
h t t p : / / n s i p . o r g
D A T A G I V E S G O A T P R O D U C E R S A L O O K A T T H E W H O L E P A C K A G E
h t t p : / / n s i p . o r g / w p - c o n t e n t / u p l o a d s / 2 0 1 5 / 0 1 / g o a t - a r t i c l e - f l i e r - 4 . p d f
H O W T H E G O A T I N D U S T R Y C A N B E N E F I T F R O M N S I P
h t t p : / / w w w . s l i d e s h a r e . n e t / s c h o e n i a n / h o w - t h e - g o a t
S H E E P G E N E T I C S A U S T R A L I A – K I D P L A N
h t t p : / / w w w . s h e e p g e n e t i c s . o r g . a u /
B r e e d i n g - s e r v i c e s / K I D P L A N - H o m e
Information about EBVs
(and NSIP) online.
Thank you for your attention.
Sheep & Goat Specialist
University of Maryland