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J Anim Sci. 2003 Jan;81(1):46-53.

Genetic parameters and trends for litter traits in U.S. Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, and Landrace pigs.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames 50011, USA.


Records on 251,296 Yorkshire, 75,262 Duroc, 83,338 Hampshire, and 53,234 Landrace litters born between 1984 and April of 1999 in herds on the National Swine Registry Swine Testing and Genetic Evaluation System were analyzed. Animal model and restricted maximum likelihood procedures were used to estimate variances of animal genetic (a), maternal genetic (m), permanent environmental, and service sire, and the covariances between a and m for number born alive (NBA), litter weight at 21 d (L21WT), and number weaned (NW). Fixed effects of contemporary groups were included in the analysis. Based on a single-trait model, estimates of heritabilities were 0.10, 0.09, 0.08, and 0.08 for NBA; 0.08, 0.07, 0.08, and 0.09 for L21WT; and 0.05, 0.07, 0.05, and 0.05 for NW in the Yorkshire, Duroc, Hampshire, and Landrace breeds, respectively. Estimates of maternal genetic effects were low and ranged from 0.00 to 0.02 for all traits and all breeds. Estimates of permanent environmental effects ranged from 0.03 to 0.08. Estimates of service sire effects ranged from 0.02 to 0.05. A bivariate analysis was used to estimate the genetic correlations among traits. Average genetic correlations over the four breeds were 0.13, 0.15, and 0.71 for NBA with L21WT, NBA with NW, and L21WT with NW, respectively. Average genetic trends were 0.018 pigs/yr, 0.114 kg/yr, and 0.004 pigs/yr for NBA, L21WT, and NW, respectively. Although estimates of heritabilities for litter traits were low and similar across breeds, genetic variances for litter traits were sufficiently large to indicate that litter traits could be improved through selection. This study presents the first set of breed-specific estimates of genetic parameters available from large numbers of field records. It provides information for use in national genetic evaluations.

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