breeding, piglets, birth weight

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Breeding of uniform piglets

Gepubliceerd op
17 september 2015

Uniformity in birth weight or litter size can lead to a higher number of weaned piglets and easier management of sows. Selection for more uniformity in these traits is possible, concludes Ewa Sell-Kubiak in her PhD thesis “Non-genetic variance in pigs - Genetic analysis of reproduction and production traits”. She successfully defended her thesis on June 22nd in the Aula of Wageningen.

In pigs, breeding for many traits is important; not only to improve the trait itself, but also to decrease its variation. Large variation in litter size and in birth weight of piglets leads to increased mortality of piglets and difficulties of sows to care for the large litters. This thesis shows that the variation in birth weight and litter size is heritable and can thus be decreased by selection. Because birth weight is an important trait for the development and survival of piglets, it is important to simultaneously select for birth weight and increased uniformity to obtain many piglets reaching the optimum birth weight. For litter size, lower variability can be obtained without decreasing litter size itself. Furthermore, a candidate gene for litter size variation was found on chromosome 7, which is involved in buffering various environmental stress factors on cells growth. The results of this thesis indicate that there are good opportunities to improve uniformity by selection.

This thesis is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre (ABGC) of Wageningen University and breeding organisation Topigs Norsvin (Beuningen, The Netherlands). Ewa was supervised by dr. Piter Bijma, dr. Han Mulder, and prof. dr. Johan van Arendonk. The project was financially supported by the Dutch Technology Foundation STW and the public-private partnership Breed4Food.