Genetic relationship between boar taint compounds, human nose scores, and reproduction traits in pigs

Mathur, P.K.; Napel, J. ten; Crump, R.E.; Mulder, H.A.; Knol, E.F.


A reduction in boar taint, an unpleasant odor arising in pork from some intact males, is desirable if routine castration of piglets needs to be stopped. Commercial slaughter pigs are typically crosses between sire lines mainly selected for finishing traits and dam lines mainly selected for reproduction traits. Previous studies suggest the possibility of reducing boar taint in sire lines due to favorable genetic correlations between boar taint and finishing traits. However, there are indications of unfavorable genetic associations between boar taint and female reproduction traits, but a lack of genetic correlation estimates remain a major roadblock in reducing boar taint in dam lines. This study was conducted to estimate genetic correlations between boar taint traits and female reproduction traits, investigate differences in these genetic relationships among sire and dam lines, and evaluate possible consequences of selection against boar taint in dam lines. The data consisted of 32,549 reproduction records from a Landrace dam line, 23,874 records from a Yorkshire dam line, and 3,745 records from a Pietrain sire line. Androstenone, skatole, and indole were measured on 1,896 carcasses, and human nose scores were recorded on 7,742 carcass samples. In general, the level of boar taint was significantly greater (P <0.05) in the two dam lines than in the sire line. A majority of genetic correlations of boar taint compounds with reproduction traits were either low or nonsignificant, except for those of skatole and indole, with age at first insemination in dam lines that were –0.32 and –0.46, respectively. Genetic correlations also differed (P <0.05) between sire and dam lines. The consequences of selection against boar taint in dam lines were evaluated, using selection indexes based on reproduction traits only, boar taint traits only, and both boar taint and reproduction traits. Selection on an index of only reproduction traits increased the number of carcasses with boar taint from 4 to 7.3% in 5 generations. Selection on a combined index reduced carcasses with boar taint from 4 to