The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

What will Artemesia's kids look like?

Blue-eyed goatIt's completely irrelevant to anything functional, but I started wondering what Artie's kid(s) will look like. It turns out that goat color genetics is pretty darn complicated. And since I only know what Artemesia, her mother, her father, and Monte look like, I'm stuck with guesses.

Eyes are the easy part. So-called blue eyes (which really look almost white on Artemesia) are dominant in goats. Artemesia is heterozygous in this trait and Monte is either heterozygous or homozygous, so 75% to 100% of her kids will have blue eyes.

Phaeomelanin goatIn terms of coat color, there are two proteins that determine color (while lack of either protein makes a white goat). Eumelanin can be black (like Artemesia's primary color), chocolate, or red, and phaeomelanin can be almost white, gold (like Artie's father and her mate), or all the way up to a dark reddish-brown.

There are various pattern possibilities that show where on the body the eumelanin and phaeomelanin turn up. It's likely that both Artie's father and Monte are heterozygous for Awt , which produces goats solid in the phaeomelanin color (gold in their case). In contrast, Artemesia and her mother have the At phenotype, which produces orange on the belly and on parts of the legs with a eumelanin-based color everywhere else. The recessive alleles carried by Artemesia's father and mate, though, are unknown.

Black and tan goat with white frostingWhat does this mean for Artemesia and Monte's kids? Since Artemesia can't be carrying the more dominant Awt (or she wouldn't be black), 50% of her kids will likely have her pattern (or the pattern of her father's father or one of her mate's parents). The other 50% will likely inherit Monte's solid, pale-gold coloration.

Finally, there's the issue of true white, which can be found on Artemesia's "frosted" muzzle and ears. This is a dominant trait, but I don't think Artemesia's mother had this phenotype and I'm pretty sure Monte doesn't, so our goat is heterozygous and will likely only pass the frosting on to 50% of her kids.

Mini-nubian kids

So, that's my analysis --- mostly blue eyes, half with pale-colored hair like Monte, the other half with who-knows-what darker pattern, and half with white frosting.

If you're not confused yet, go read the article I linked to above and I promise you will be 100% confused by the end. Then look at the photo above of Artemesia and her cousins and figure most of her kids will probably look at least a little bit like them. I guess that was the easy answer to my question....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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