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Title: Genetic parameters for haemoglobin levels in sows and piglets as well as sow reproductive performance and piglet survival
Contributor(s): Hollema, B L (author); Zwiers, S (author); Hermesch, Susanne  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2020-04
Early Online Version: 2019-10-28
DOI: 10.1017/S1751731119002532
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Abstract: Genetic parameters were estimated for haemoglobin (Hb) levels in sows and piglets as well as sow reproductive performance and piglet survival. Reproductive traits were available between 2005 and 2014 for 7857 litters from 1029 Large White and 858 Landrace sows. In 2012 and 2013, Hb levels, sow BW and sow back fat depth were measured on 348 sows with 529 litters 5 days prior to farrowing. In addition, Hb levels were available for 1127 one-day-old piglets from 383 litters (a maximum of three piglets per litter) of 277 sows with Hb levels. The average Hb levels in sows (sow Hb), their litters (litter Hb, based on average Hb of three piglets) and individual piglets (piglet Hb) were 112 ± 12.6 g/l, 103 ± 15.3 g/l and 105 ± 21.7 g/l, respectively. Heritabilities for Hb levels were 0.09 ± 0.07 for sow Hb, 0.19 ± 0.11 for litter Hb and 0.08 ± 0.05 for piglet Hb. Estimates for the permanent environment effect of sows were 0.09 ± 0.09 for sow Hb, 0.11 ± 0.12 for litter Hb and 0.12 ± 0.03 for piglet Hb. In comparison, heritabilities for both number of stillborn piglets and pre-weaning survival were lower (0.05 ± 0.01 and 0.04 ± 0.01). Sow BW had no significant heritability, while sow back fat depth was lowly heritable (0.10 ± 0.08). Positive genetic correlations were found between sow Hb and litter Hb (0.64 ± 0.47) and between litter Hb and sow back fat depth (0.71 ± 0.53). Higher litter Hb was genetically associated with lower number of stillborn piglets (−0.78 ± 0.35) and higher pre-weaning survival (0.28 ± 0.33). Negative genetic correlations between sow Hb and average piglet birth weight of the litter (−0.60 ± 0.34) and between piglet Hb and birth weight of individual piglets (−0.37 ± 0.32) indicate that selection for heavier piglets may reduce Hb levels in sows and piglets. Similarly, selection for larger litter size will reduce average piglet birth weight (rg: −0.40 ± 0.12) and pre-weaning survival (−0.57 ± 0.13) and may lead to lower litter Hb (−0.48 ± 0.27). This study shows promising first results for the use of Hb levels as a selection criterion in pig breeding programs, and selection for higher Hb levels may improve piglet survival and limit further reduction in Hb levels in sows and piglets due to selection for larger and heavier litters.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Animal, 14(4), p. 688-696
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1751-732X
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 070201 Animal Breeding
Field of Research (FoR) 2020: 300305 Animal reproduction and breeding
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 830308 Pigs
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 100410 Pigs
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU)
Journal Article

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