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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #432462

Research Project: Assisted Reproductive Technologies for Heritage Swine Breeds

Location: Plant and Animal Genetic Resources Preservation

Project Number: 3012-31000-006-17-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 30, 2018
End Date: Jul 29, 2020

Typical swine industry artificial insemination techniques have been shown not to be effective with a rare breed of pigs, especially when frozen semen is utilized. As a result the use of genetically diverse animals is a limiting factor for these livestock producers. To resolve this issue the objective is to improve fertility of Large Black gilts/sows when frozen semen is used by: improving estrus synchronization, quantifying follicle growth and adjusting artificial insemination accordingly. Successfully developed techniques will be transfered to Large Black breeders and breeders of rare pig breeds in conjunction with a non-governmental organization.

Large Black breeders have agreed to donate 20 gilts to Purdue university for this study. Swine Genetics International has agreed to provide fresh semen to ARS for cryopreservation and use in artificial insemination. At Purdue, animals will be housed in two outdoor, open-front pens. They will farrow in crates inside a barn and remain there through their respective lactations. Some crates are available as well for breeding and housing for intensive studies. Close observation of the animals for lameness and structural issues will be performed to determine the best housing environment for the animals and adjustments made as needed. • GILTS: Gilts will be synchronized using available synchronization and ovulation induction products. Gilts will be bred using frozen semen with similar post-thaw motility. Pregnancies will be taken to term and pregnancy and litter data recorded. Gilts that do not conceive may be resynchronized and bred similarly to the first insemination. Parity 1 females will be allowed to nurse for various lengths of time (i.e., 21d vs 42d) and management practices may be imposed as a treatment such as removal of piglets for 12h/d. Rectal ultrasound will be used to observe follicle growth on the ovaries and sows will be bred with frozen semen of similar post thaw motility. Pregnancies will be taken to term and pregnancy and litter data recorded. Sows that do not conceived may be synchronized based on data obtained from the gilts and rebred similarly to the gilt projects. Parity-2: Information from gilt and Parity-1 fertility will be used to design a third breeding trial for the parity 2 females. A portion of the offspring will be raised to slaughter weight and carcass and meat quality evaluations performed.