Dairy goat farming is practiced worldwide, within a range of different farming systems. Here we investigated the effects of environmental factors and morphology on milk traits of the Sardinian goat population. Sardinian goats are currently reared in Sardinia (Italy) in a low-input context, similar to many goat farming systems, especially in developing countries. Milk and morphological traits from 1,050 Sardinian goats from 42 farms were recorded. We observed a high variability regarding morphological traits, such as coat color, ear length and direction, horn presence, and udder shape. Such variability derived partly from the unplanned repeated crossbreeding of the native Sardinian goats with exotic breeds, especially Maltese goats. The farms located in the mountains were characterized by the traditional farming system and the lowest percentage of crossbred goats. Explanatory factors analysis was used to summarize the interrelated measured milk variables. The explanatory factor related to fat, protein, and energy content of milk (the âQualityâ latent variable) explained about 30% of the variance of the whole data set of measured milk traits followed by the âHygieneâ (19%), âProductionâ (19%), and âAcidityâ (11%) factors. The âQualityâ and âHygieneâ factors were not affected by any of the farm classification items, whereas âProductionâ and âAcidityâ were affected only by altitude and size of herds, respectively, indicating the adaptation of the local goat population to different environmental conditions. The use of latent explanatory factor analysis allowed us to clearly explain the large variability of milk traits, revealing that the Sardinian goat population cannot be divided into subpopulations based on milk attitude. The factors, properly integrated with genetic data, may be useful tools in future selection programs.
Environmental, morphological, and productive characterization of Sardinian goats and use of latent explanatory factors for population analysis / Vacca, Giuseppe Massimo; Paschino, P.; Dettori, M. L.; Bergamaschi, M.; Cipolat-Gotet, C.; Bittante, G.; Pazzola, M.. - In: JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE. - ISSN 0021-8812. - 94:9(2016), pp. 3947-3957. [10.2527/jas2016-0542]
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