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J Anim Sci. 2003 Mar;81(3):604-10.

Genetic parameters for within-litter variation in piglet birth weight and change in within-litter variation during suckling.

Author information

1
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics. P.O. Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark. Lars.damgaard@agrsci.dk

Abstract

The objective of this study was to ascertain whether maternal additive genetic variance exists for within-litter variation in birth weight and for change in within-litter variation in piglet weight during suckling. A further objective was to estimate maternal genetic correlations of these two traits with mortality, birth weight, growth, and number of piglets born alive. Data were obtained from Lövsta research station, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and included 22,521 piglets born in 2,003 litters by 1,074 Swedish Yorkshire sows. No cross fostering was used in the herd. The following seven traits were analysed in a multivariate animal (sow) model: number of piglets born alive, within-litter SD in birth weight, within-litter SD in piglet weight at 3 wk of age, mean weight at birth, mean weight at 3 wk of age, proportion of stillborn piglets, and proportion of dead piglets during suckling. Maternal genetic variance for the change in within-litter SD in piglet weight during suckling was assessed from the estimated additive genetic covariance components by conditioning on within-litter SD in birth weight. Similarly, mean growth of piglets during suckling was assessed from the additive genetic covariance components by conditioning on mean weight at birth. The heritability for within-litter SD in birth weight was 0.08 and 0.06 for within-litter SD in piglet weight at 3 wk. The genetic correlation between these two traits was 0.71. Little maternal genetic variance was found for the change in within-litter SD in piglet weight during suckling, and opportunity for genetic improvement of this trait by selective breeding seems limited. The genetic correlation of within-litter SD in birth weight with proportion of dead piglets during suckling was 0.25 and of within-litter SD in birth weight with mean growth of piglets was -0.31. The maternal genetic variance and heritability found for within-litter SD in birth weight indicates that genetic improvement of this trait by selective breeding is possible. In addition, selection for sows' capacity to give birth to homogeneous litters may be advantageous for piglet survival, piglet growth, and litter homogeneity at weaning.

PMID:
12661639
DOI:
10.2527/2003.813604x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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