HOW TO DNA TEST YOUR GOAT
Fe Everett from Zodiac Mini Goats
In Australia, several goat registries including AGB Inc. require DNA parental verification back to a known import in order to register the pedigree for Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy. It applies to some other Associations (and AGB Inc.) for bucks, and we are moving towards DNA genotyping and eventually parent verification for our other breeds as well. InfogeneNZ via Massey University is my recommended supplier for DNA testing. We have worked with them for over 4 years and hundreds of tests. It's simple, affordable and they have a great team. If you are new to DNA testing, here's how we do it.
COMPLETE YOUR ONLINE ORDER
Firstly we will run through how to complete your order online, then collecting the samples, then submitting them. To start, have your animals information ready including the full name (stud prefix and animal name) you intend to use on the pedigree, as that must match the DNA certificate. DOB, tag or microchip, parents names and Massey DNA numbers. Visit the InfogeneNZ website and select 'Goat Test Request'. There seems like a lot of things to fill out, but some of the form may not be relevant to your specific test. The steps depend on what you are testing for - here are some common examples:
DNA GENOTYPING + VERIFICATION TO RECORDED PARENTS
Two really common tests are 1) Submitting a new hair sample for DNA profile and parental verification to two parents already inthe Massey system, 2) DNA PV as per number 1 + myotonic screen. We have an example goat today - Zodiac Eona - to take you through the system.
So you just fill out the info from the top about you and the goat, then add the Dam and Sire name including their Massey number (this will be on the sire/dam rego). The name of the person taking the sample.
Select 'HAIR' from the sample type drop down. For testing as per number 1 above, select parentage verification, and for option 2 select the last box Genotype and Myotonia (highlighted in green).
Scroll to the bottom and tick that you have all your tests selected, ADD TO CART. Once you get to the cart you can continue shopping and add another goat.
With the hair samples, i recommend you select that you will pay by invoice. Once the samples arrive at the lab, they will drop you an email and you can pay then - see how this works later in this article. This saves any messing around if the samples are misplaced or some postage issue.
The next test that is really popular at the moment is example 3) a myotonic screening test for an animal that already has a Massey DNA profile.
This one does NOT involve a hair sample, simply to lodge an online form and make payment. Also you don't need to put all the information in - just your name, the goats name, select 'Previously Submitted Sample', enter the goats Massey DNA number. You will need to obtain express permission from the breeder (or whoever submitted the original sample) to request the test - even if you now own that animal, then scroll down and select the stand alone 'Myotonic Screen' option.
Check the box that you've added all the tests and proceed to cart. This one we recommend paying straight away. These tests don't take long at all, and paying at the same time as lodging will make it extra speedy.
NEW ANIMAL GENOTYPING
Last example today is for our members who may not have done DNA testing before. Mainly this will be looking to create a profile for current Australian Miniature or Mini Nubian bucks, along with myotonic screening using a new hair sample.
This test is where the animals parents have not been tested, and therefore not in the system. Here you are creating Genotype DNA profile for your animal to use in the future to prove his progeny to. Secondly, to give a random one-off screen for myotonic gene across Australian Miniature and Mini-Nubian animals that are not carrying any Nigerian Dwarf genetics.
While logically you would select the first box (genotype) and then later down the page the Myotonic screen, it's cheaper to select the highlighted combo option of Genotype + Myotonic screen even though you are not using the PV part of that test.
If you are creating a DNA profile for your Aussie Mini or MN does, or bucks that don't need the myo screen, then just select the first tick box 'Genotype-DNA profile only
Once you have completed all your tests and gone through the rest of the process (create an account etc), InfogeneNZ will send you a confirmation email which contains your order number. Print out a copy of this email as you will need to send it along with your samples.
COLLECTING YOUR HAIR SAMPLES
You can order free sample kits from InfogeneNZ in advance of your testing, or like me, you can use items you have at home. Cut up some card or heavy paper into business card size pieces. I have some sheets of address label stickers, and small envelopes. You can pre-fill your stickers with the animals names, and then an envelope for each sample with the name of the animal and your order number.
We've all watched enough CSI over the past 20 years to know that we need to have visible roots on our hair sample as this is what is used to extract the DNA.
Dry, clean hair should be taken from the side of the tail. In adults you can grab 20-40 strands, wrap it around your finger and pull! For kids we use tweezers, and mostly it is kids we are testing. The tweezers make it easy to get (and hold on to) a good sample from those little wrigglers.
Work in a clean area, put the hair on the card. Place the sticker over the hair below the the roots. Pop it in the envelope marked for that goat and seal. Repeat.
SUBMITTING YOUR SAMPLES
Once you have collected all your samples, check them off to the email confirming your order. Print off the Health Declaration and the Customs Permit. Complete the Health Dec and include that with the samples and a copy of your confirmation email in a larger envelope ready to post.
Lodge with INTERNATONAL EXPRESS POST. Attach a copy of the Customs Permit to the back side of the postbag with the words 'customs permit' showing. Australia Post have a clear plastic sleeve they use for this.
Post away. I will reiterate here EXPRESS POST ONLY!!! With tracking. It costs us around $30-35 to express post from regional NSW and arrives within the week.
Once your samples arrive at the lab, you will receive a second email. Follow the links to pay. Wait a few weeks and you should have your results back. If you get stuck with anything, you can contact InfogeneNZ directly from their page, phone or email - they are super helpful.
Fe and Brendon Everett operate Zodiac Mini Goats - the oldest Nigerian Dwarf Goat stud in NSW.