Polled Goat Genetics

Tillie the Egghead

Our doeling, “Tillie” was naturally polled. She came from a HORNED Registered Saanen Buck and a naturally POLLED mixed breed Doe (Boer, Nubian, Saanen). Her twin brother was horned and we disbudded him with a disbudding iron.

Tillie was a really good example of a POLLED goat kid. Please ignore her mule ears (which I loved by the way). The top of her head is egg-shaped, normally, but not always, this will be a hint when trying to determine whether your goat kids are polled. HORNED goat kids will have a flatter-shaped head. They will also have little hair swirls over the areas where the horns will grow in. Also if the skin over the horn nubs (polled goat kids will sometimes have rounded nubs) is loose and moves around slightly when rubbed, the kid is POLLED. The skin over HORNS will not move and is stuck tightly to the horn nub.

I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible. All goats carry two genes for horns, either two HORNED genes or a HORNED gene plus a POLLED gene or rarely two POLLED genes. Breeding polled to polled does not guarantee polled babies unless one parent is homozygous (two polled genes) which is extremely rare.

Any goat that carries a polled gene WILL BE POLLED. No goat can pass a polled gene to its offspring if it has horns because it doesn’t have a polled gene to pass. I have seen people advertising horned or disbudded goats as having a polled parent like that is a selling point. It doesn’t matter if it has two polled parents, it is never going to pass a polled gene to its offspring.

Let’s talk about SCURS, I believe that scurs are just as genetic as Polledness and Blue-eyes. I have voiced my opinion about this and have been destroyed by experts who have raised goats since before I was born! They have no idea how old I am!

Taken From:
Polled Genetics | American Goat Society

Genetics for Polled vs. Horned

The dominant trait is for goats to be polled which is indicated here by the capital P for polled. Horns are the result of two recessive genes which are indicated here by the lowercase p for horned. You would not be able to tell the difference between a polled animal that carries two dominant genes from one that carries one recessive gene for horned. This explains how it is possible to breed two polled animals and have some offspring with horns. This would indicate that both parents carry a recessive gene for horns.

PP: This animal is polled, and does not carry the gene for horns.
Pp: This animal would be polled, and carry a recessive gene for horns.
pp: This animal has horns. An animal must carry two genes for horns to have horns.

Here are the various breeding scenarios with the resulting offspring:

Horned (pp) X Horned (pp) = 100% horned (pp) offspring.
Polled (Pp) X Horned (pp) = 50% polled (Pp), 50% horned (pp) offspring.
Polled (Pp) X Polled (Pp) = 25% polled (PP), 50% polled (Pp), 25% horned (pp) offspring
Homozygous polled (PP) X Horned (pp) = All polled (Pp) offspring.
Homozygous polled (PP) X Homozygous Polled (PP) = All homozygous polled (PP) offspring.