Polled Genes in Goats

When I wrote this post I thought I had finally found a good source of information on goat genetics, but I was wrong. A fellow goat breeder has corrected me below in the comments, and you should read her post. She has a wonderful farm called Antiquity Oaks, and I have been reading her blogs and going to her site for about a year and I really respect her opinion. Thank you, Deborah!

Ok, there is a lot of information out there on polled genes in goats. I had heard it was recessive, meaning to get a hornless goat you had to breed two goats with the gene together to get any hornless, or polled, babies. So, I haveΒ  this polled doe and bred her to a buck I was pretty sure didn’t have that gene, and yet had a kid that was polled. So, I did some research today that went a little deeper.

Here is what I found. There are apparently 2 poll genes found in goats. One is a dominate P polled gene, and the other is a receive p polled gene. Based on my biology studies in high school and the scientists, you have two ways of getting a polled goat. One is to breed a goat with a dominant P gene to any other goat and you have at least a 1-in-4 chance of getting a polled kid.

The other way to get a polled goat is to breed two goats with a recessive p gene together. This should result in a 50/50 chance for polled kids. Now here is the kicker. Apparently the recessive p gene is linked to hermaphrodites, or combined sex organs. This is bad. Also, a goat carrying the dominant P gene can also carry the recessive p gene, so if you breed two goats with this together you run a higher risk of getting a hermaphrodite.

It would seem that as long as the recessive gene is not there, you can breed polled goats to polled goats, but you run a slightly higher risk of hermaphrodites being born than with other breedings. So, in my case, I apparently have a doe with at least the dominant P gene, and she had 1 polled buckling this time around. She had a polled doe last year, but I was really new at this breeding stuff and just thought the buck she was bred to carried a recessive gene for it. Nothing like learning something new! Here is the site I learned about the two types of genes. It is the best one I have found!


About nigerianmeadows

I am a homeschooling mother of 2 autistic children and cook gluten-free, I homestead on 2.5 acre and raise goats and chickens for dairy and eggs, I garden, cook, quilt, and take photographs. I build, paint, scrub, and dance on tables. I am the ultimate WOMAN!!! Oh, yeah, and I like my husband a whole lot (he is the one that makes all this possible, and he loves me like no other!)
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16 Responses to Polled Genes in Goats

  1. LindaG says:

    So polled means to naturally have no horns?
    Interesting post. Thanks for all the information and the link. πŸ™‚

  2. Unfortunately, that post you linked to is filled with misinformation. Polled and blue eyes in goats are both dominant traits, meaning that if a goat has the gene, they WILL express it. You will not get a polled kid from two horned parents or a blue-eyed kid from two brown-eyed parents. If you have a polled doe, she will throw polled kids 50% of the time because she has one p and one P. Your horned buck has two genes for horns. If he had a polled gene, he would be polled. P and p are just used to designate polled and horned — not two different kinds of polled genes. Because people believe that breeding polled to polled creates hermaphrodites in goats, you don’t really find any homozygous polled goats — meaning a goat with two polled genes, because you’d have to breed two polled goats to get one. If a goat had two polled genes, they could throw only polled.

    There have not been any studies done on polled to polled breeding in about 30 years because it’s just so well accepted that it causes hermaphrodites. All the studies I’ve seen were done between the 1930s and 1960s. In one study done in the 1960s, there was a 10% incidence of hermaphrodites when breeding two goats that each had a polled gene and a horned gene. The incidence of hermaphrodites was 25% when breeding a homozygous polled buck (two polled genes) to a doe with one polled gene. This was done in saanens, and the sample was huge — 1,600 goats from multiple farms. The incidence of hermphrodites has obviously been exaggerated, but that happens when you don’t do any new research in 30 years. It’s like a game of telephone — after 30 years, 10% turned into 100%.

    There is also a myth that the polled gene is lethal, and some people think that all polled goats are going to throw hermaphrodites. If that were true, they’d be extinct! The amount of misinformation on polled goats is crazy. I would be happy to email you a couple of studies from scientific journals. It’s really fascinating stuff.

    • Ok, so polled is dominant, as are blue eyes, but there are no recessive polled genes? I think I’m getting this straight, lol! I was having so much trouble finding any information about this, or any other gene traits, that were not based on “I heard this some time or other”. I would love to see the study’s! If they are online I’d like to share them on here if I may as well. There is so little information about breeding genetics on the internet, at least that I have found in my searches. This page I found seemed so legitimate! I wish there were a reliable database for goat genetics. It would really help us breed better animals. What books or journals would have this kind of information, or are there any? Thank you for correcting me on this. I appreciate it tremendously.

      • Nope, no recessive polled genes. The person on that forum that used an H to identify a horned goat was incorrect. They only use p and P. People have become a little confused by the idea of polled recessive because sometimes a goat is incorrectly disbudded at birth by someone who doesn’t know they have a polled kid, and then the papers are marked as horned when you really have a polled kid. When in doubt about horned status, we wait. That would be the disadvantage of having a polled goat — we disbud kids earlier when both parents are horned because we KNOW the kids are horned. Sometimes we wait longer than I’d like when they’re horned if they came from a polled parent because I don’t want to be one of those who incorrectly identifies a goat as horned when it is not.

        If you search on “google scholar” — http://scholar.google.com — rather than just plain google, it will only search the scholarly journals, rather than the web at large. That’s where I found those studies that I emailed you. There are others, but they’re all pretty old, and they’re all PDFs, which is a pain. In my “spare” time, I’ll read more of them. LOL

        • That’s a great link Deborah, thank you! I think it will prove very useful. The whole thing is proving to be a good lesson for my kids on remembering to verify the legitimacy of their research sources too! A book on goat genetics could be your next *hint, hint*. There is a real need for some good information for beginning breeders on how traits work together.

  3. Angie Wills says:

    Well I am glad someone else caught that. I was getting ready to say no no no… HAHA! πŸ™‚ And there is also misleading information about the incidence of hermaphrodites, too. If you do some digging from legitimate studies out of universities you will find that the incidence of hermaphrodites, even from polled to polled animals, is low. They breed in the wild all of the time without a problem, but there is an occasional genetic screw up and a hermaphrodite is born. There are some genes out there that are totally caustic in other animals, but I haven’t read of any in the goat yet except for the highly exaggerated ‘polled’ effect. I’m glad you found some other good info. I’m including an old article on the topic. It is an old article, but from my own research, I haven’t seen them isolate a specific gene yet, so I am thinking the information here is still pretty valid. As it says, if you breed polled x horned, even if the horned animal was out of a polled parent, you are still fine and the risk is very small.

    Other dominant genes– the belted gene is dominant, and the white cap on the poll (and tail) is usually dominant. Frosting on ears, etc, is dominant, too. I’m sure you know blue eyes are also dominant. πŸ™‚


  4. Interesting… I just left a farm where a polled buck bred a polled doe and their offspring (doe) had horns. Myotonic goats πŸ™‚

    • Yep. There is a 25% chance of a horned kid when two heterozygous polled goats are bred. And since people don’t usually breed two polled goats, most polled goats are heterozygous. If a polled goat is homozygous, all kids will be polled, regardless of the horn status of the other parents.

      • Oznayim says:

        But you have to consider the effect of probability also. My Ex MIL had 7 boys, no girls. Yes the theoretical probability is 50%. 1 in 128 for 7 boys no girls… but it can happen

  5. Clanny says:

    Hello. I became mom to a beautiful little polled white with black boots and blue eyes pgymy girl at the end of March when she was 5 days old. Her mother passed when she was 2 days, a surrogate nanny’s kid wouldn’t allow her to nurse, and she wouldn’t take to a nipple. In the past at a farm I had helped bottle feed, seems I have the patience to sit with babies for hours trying to get some nutrients into them. So, I was asked if I would take her home to see if I could get her to take to a nipple and bottle, but people didn’t really expect her to last even 2-3 more days. Needless to say, I now have a 5 month old kid who lives with me in my house, completely housebroken, walks on a harness and leash, crates when I want her to, know for the most part what she is allowed to jump up on to, and goes everywhere with me. She thinks she is either a dog or a cat, but not a goat. She’ll even run with the dogs as they are herding the goats.
    Well anyway, a friend has 2 black & white males that are gorgeous. One of them is polled. I had said If I decide to breed her that I would like to use the polled male. When she told me what could happen with breeding 2 polled goats, I thought she was pulling my leg. I found your page which explained this weird possible “occurrence”. Basically now I’m not sure if I will ever breed her. I have a 18 months to decide. Thanks for the information. But now can you tell me how to make her realize she is a goat? And not to be so clingy? LOL Thanks

    • Your goats sound wonderful!
      Sitting here years later, I would tell you not to be concerned about breeding your goats. The only hermaphrodites I have come across have been with horned to horned breeding, and I have bred polled to polled. So, essentially, it can happen no matter the breeding, but its a relativity small occurrence.
      As to making a house goat realize she is a goat? I can only wish you luck, haha!

  6. I hope everyone would go to Youtube and listen to to Joel Wallach’s Dead Doctors Don’t Lie. A LOT of things are wrongly attributed to genetics when it is minerals and vitamin deficiencies that drive a whole bunch of things. He is a veterinarian first, and later a human natural doc, he was harassed b the research industry for finding selenium deficiency was the actual cause of “genetic” disease Cystic Fibrosis. He found it in monkeys during research at NASA and was ignored out of the undustry because it was “only a human genetic disease” yet he could replicate it (polyunsaturated oil in monkey biscuits caused the deficiency). He went on to do greater research on selenium deficiency in China on humans. He wrote the only tome used by vets on every disease and health condition on pretty much all animals ever written (including worms). The book runs $3000 on Amazon. The man loves his research. Anyhow, he feels after thousands of necropsies (animals) and autopsies (human) that every disease is nutritional related, and usually a deficiency. Including hermaphroditism. He has many other free videos on Youtbe all well worth the listen. No you do not have to buy his products, yes I have gotten my 60 minerals via kelp meal since 1994, a pretty cheap supplement, but also use a few of the best quality and yet cheapest vitamin companies online.
    Wallach also wrote Epigenetics in 2015, on the history of medicine and the follies of the medical field, his biography, and updates on the 60 minerals and their researched effects on our and our animals’ metabolism.
    Also look up soilminerals dot com, on the better known minerals for plant health- know from the epigenetics book, that limestone contains all 60 and since using limestone powder on my garden, my plants have developed a resistance to insect damage,yes even grasshoppers. But the minerals allow the plants to produce better quality protein for us and our animals, and also help them produce pheromones and such to repel insects. I have been on a tangent to get limestone spread (by hand) all over my pasture area for my sheep and goats, and garden area for myself and chickens and rabbits ( I hand cut for the rabbits, would love to set up enough “pastures” for rabbit rotation. I’m also trying to ensure they can produce bone building vitamin K2 in their tissues for my own use. Eggs meat and milk).

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