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J Anim Sci. 2009 Sep;87(9):2767-73. doi: 10.2527/jas.2008-1328. Epub 2009 Jun 19.

Genetic relationships among pig behavior, growth, backfat, and loin muscle area.

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North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7627, USA.


The objective of this study was to estimate repeatabilities and heritabilities for measures of pig behavior and their relationship with performance. Measures of behavior and performance included the backtest, resident-intruder test, human approach test (HAT), novel object test (NOT), d 1 BW, backfat depth (BF), loin muscle area (LMA), ADG in the farrowing house, ADG, 21-d BW, and 140-d BW (W). Each behavioral trait was measured twice. The study consisted of 95 litters from 31 sires with an average of 3 litters per sire (n >or= 457). Between 7 and 14 d of age, the backtest was conducted by placing each pig in a supine position for 60 s. Total time spent struggling (TTS) and total number of attempts to struggle (TAS) were recorded. The resident intruder test involved 2 nursery pigs, a resident pig and an unfamiliar intruder pig. The resident pen was divided in half by a solid partition. A resident pig was placed in the test area, and an intruder pig was then introduced. Latency until an attack occurred (LAT) and total number of attacks over 2 tests (RIS) were recorded. Amount of time taken for each finishing pig to make snout contact with an unfamiliar human or object was recorded. Dam and sire effects influenced all traits (P < 0.01). Sex and pen affected LAT, RIS, HAT, and NOT (P < 0.10). Repeatabilities of TTS, TAS, RIS, LAT, HAT, and NOT were 0.38, 0.21, 0.07, 0.08, 0.17, and 0.11, respectively. The phenotypic correlations of TTS with TAS and HAT with NOT were 0.61 and 0.34, respectively. Phenotypic correlation between RIS and LAT was -0.85. Total time spent struggling and TAS tended to be phenotypically correlated with 21-d BW and ADG in the farrowing house. Total attempts to struggle were phenotypically correlated with BF (0.15). Latency until an attack occurred was phenotypically correlated with LMA (0.23). Resident intruder score was phenotypically correlated with ADG (-0.13), W (-0.13), and LMA (-0.21) and estimated to be lowly heritable (h(2) = 0.12). Heritabilities of TTS and TAS were 0.31 and 0.53, respectively. Genetic correlation of TAS with ADG and W was 0.38. Genetic correlations of TTS with BF, W, and TAS were 0.14, 0.18, and 0.81, respectively. The backtest is a heritable and repeatable measure of a behavioral characteristic in pigs that is phenotypically and genetically correlated with performance.

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