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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Quantitative Genetics

Genetic analysis of age at first service, return rate, litter size, and weaning-to-first service interval of gilts and sows1


This article in

  1. Vol. 83 No. 1, p. 41-48
    Received: June 29, 2004
    Accepted: Sept 29, 2004

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. B. Holm*†2,
  2. M. Bakken,
  3. O. Vangen and
  4. R. Rekaya
  1. Norsvin, NO-2304 Hamar, Norway;
    Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Agricultural University of Norway, NO-1432 Aas, Norway; and
    Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30606


The aim of this study was to estimate genetic parameters of seven traits related to sow reproductive performance. Data on all Norwegian Landrace pigs (NL) born in nucleus herds and raised in nucleus or multiplying herds from 1990 to 2000 were extracted from the Norwegian national recording scheme. Reproductive traits investigated were age at first service (AFS), return rate in gilts (RRg), age at first farrowing (AFF), live-born piglets in the first litter (NBA1), interval from weaning to first service after first litter (WTS1), return rate after first litter (RR1), live-born piglets in the second litter (NBA2), and interval from weaning to first service after second litter (WTS2). After editing, the data set comprised 12,583 to 56,042 records, depending on the trait. A mixed linear and a joint linear threshold animal model were used to estimate (co)variance components. A full Bayesian approach via Gibbs sampling was adopted. The statistical model used for analysis included contemporary groups of herd-year (-season), purebred or crossbred litter, single or double insemination, mating type, parity in which the animal was born, a regression on lactation length, and an additive genetic effect. Neither the estimated heritabilities nor the genetic correlations differed much between the two approaches, but there was a tendency for higher genetic correlations using the joint linear threshold model approach. Average heritabilities were as follows: AFS = 0.31; RRg = 0.03; RR1 = 0.02; NBA1 = 0.12; NBA2 = 0.14; WTS1 = 0.08; and WTS2 = 0.03. The highest genetic correlations were estimated between NBA1 and NBA2 (rg = 0.95), RR1 and WTS1 (rg = 0.93), and between WTS1 and WTS2 (rg = 0.78). The estimated genetic correlation between NBA and WTS were close to zero. Selection for increased NBA will slightly increase AFS and reduce the probability of a return. Selection for decreased AFS will have a favorable effect on WTS intervals; however, selection for decreased AFS seems to have an unfavorable effect on return rate both on gilts and sows. Conversely, selection for decreased WTS intervals will reduce the probability of a return. Potential selection candidates to include in a multivariate fertility index are AFS, NBA, and WTS1. Due to the low heritability and low, but favorable, genetic correlations to NBA and WTS, RR is not recommended as a selection candidate.

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