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In 2007, the Trust were approached by Wetherbys Ireland/University College Dublin to take part in an Irish Goat breed DNA Genetics Survey, which was funded by Department of Agriculture.
Hair follicle samples from the Bilberry goats were sent to Wetherbys to be analysed. This comprehensive genetic survey took eight years to complete by UCD Masters student Sarah Quaid. The results showed the Bilberry goat herd to be a ‘unique’ breed of Landrace goat, with high levels of genetic independence from all other goat breeds in Ireland, as shown in the Conclusions page of the Report below:
Characterisation Report of Native Goat Breeds of Ireland
Of the two native goat breeds studied, the Bilberry goats showed the most genetic independence from the other goat breeds present in Ireland. The Old Irish Goat showed some levels of independence but overall the selection showed a mixture with the Saanen, the British Alpine and the Toggenburg goats.
Genetic differentiation estimators based on microsatellite data showed significant values for the Bilberry goats from the other goat breeds studied. The Old Irish Goats showed differentiation to a lesser degree.
The Bilberry goats showed high levels of independence from the other goats sampled both at a microsatellite and a mitochondrial level. The Bilberry goats showed very little introgression with other goat breeds.
The Saanen, the Toggenburg and the British Alpine goats showed admixture between each population both at a microsatellite and a mitochondrial level. The Old Irish goat showed admixture also with these breeds.
Clustering suggests high levels of breed purity in the Anglo Nubian goats sampled and also in the Bilberry goats that were sampled. The Old Irish goat showed clustering with the Saanens, the Toggenburgs and the British Alpine.