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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Livestock Bio-Systems » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335984

Title: Genetic improvement of sow lifetime productivity

item Rohrer, Gary
item CROSS, AMANDA - South Dakota State University
item Lents, Clay
item Miles, Jeremy
item Nonneman, Danny - Dan
item Rempel, Lea

Submitted to: Midwestern Section of the American Society of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2016
Publication Date: 3/31/2017
Citation: Rohrer, G.A., Cross, A.J., Lents, C.A., Miles, J.R., Nonneman, D.J., Rempel, L.A. 2017. Genetic improvement of sow lifetime productivity. [Abstract] In proceedings: Midwestern Section of the American Society of Animal Science. March 13-15, 2017. Omaha, NE. Journal of Animal Science Supplement 95(Suppl 2):11-12 doi:10.2527/asasmw.2017.026.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sow lifetime productivity is a complex, yet important trait, that would benefit commercial populations if improved. It has been estimated that a sow must produce 3 litters to cover the cost of replacement; yet, nearly half of the gilts retained for breeding are removed prior to producing 3 litters resulting in an economic loss. Longevity and lifetime productivity are complex phenotypes with numerous contributing factors resulting in low estimates of heritability. To facilitate selection for lifetime productivity, scientists have searched for genetic markers associated with improved performance as well as indicator traits that can be measured at an early age. Research has led to numerous marker associations of genetic variation in candidate genes with litter size as well as a discovery that gilts reaching puberty at an earlier age had a greater likelihood of producing 3 or more litters in a National Pork Board supported study. Commercial breeding companies have greatly increased litter size with traditional BLUP selection and have adopted genomic selection methodology. To unlock the genetic factors contributing to lifetime productivity, a principal component analysis was conducted, which included a number of key phenotypes associated with productivity. Phenotypes (n = 1,633) included lifetime number born, born alive and weaned, days in production, final parity, average litter birth weight, average litter weaning weight, age at puberty, day 140 weight and day 140 back fat measurements. Analysis indicated strong correlations among lifetime number of piglets born (total, alive and weaned) with final parity and days in the herd, moderate correlations among lifetime performance traits (pigs born and weaned) with average litter weights (birth and weaning) and virtually no correlation among lifetime performance and day 140 measurements or age at puberty in these data. Lack of association between age at puberty and lifetime performance is likely due to population management as all retained gilts reached puberty early. Genome-wide association analyses were performed using GENSEL for five principal components (PC1 – PC5) that describe the most variation. PC1 was the primary component affiliated with lifetime performance traits and accounted for 54% of the phenotypic variation. PC1 had a genomic heritability of 0.19 with marker associations residing on chromosomes 5, 12, 14, 15 and X. These results identified considerable genetic variation for sow lifetime performance indicating selection should be very effective at improving this trait. Genomic selection would enable ranking potential replacement animals early in life and increase the accuracy of selection.