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This article in

  1. Vol. 86 No. 9, p. 2076-2081
    Received: May 18, 2007
    Accepted: Apr 21, 2008
    Published: December 5, 2014

    1 Corresponding author(s):


Genetic components of heat stress in finishing pigs: Parameter estimation

  1. B. Zumbach*†1,
  2. I. Misztal*,
  3. S. Tsuruta*,
  4. J. P. Sanchez*‡,
  5. M. Azain*,
  6. W. Herring§,
  7. J. Holl§,
  8. T. Long§ and
  9. M. Culbertson§
  1. Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-2771;
    Norsvin, Pb 504, 2304 Hamar, Norway;
    Departamento de Producción Animal, Universidad de León, León, 24071, Spain; and
    Smithfield Premium Genetics Group, PO Box 668, Rose Hill, NC 28458


The objective of this study was to describe genetic variability of pig carcass weight as a function of heat stress. Data included carcass weights of 23,556 crossbred pigs [Duroc × (Landrace × Large White)] raised on 2 farms in North Carolina and harvested from May 2005 through December 2006. Weather data were obtained from a weather station located about 20 km from the furthest farm. Weekly heat load was calculated as degrees of average temperature-humidity index (THI) in excess of 18°C. The total heat load (H) was the sum of heat loads for 10 wk before harvest. Variance components were estimated with 3 models: univariate (UNI)—not accounting for heat stress, 2-trait (MT2), and random regression (RR). In all of the models, effects included contemporary group, sex, age at harvest, sire, and litter. In MT2, observations in months in which heat stress was observed (“hot”) and not observed (“cold”) were treated as separate traits. Heat stress was observed in the months of August to November 2005, as well as July to October 2006. No heat stress was observed in the months of May to July 2005, January to June 2006, and November to December 2006. The RR model added a random regression on heat load for the sire effect. Heat load was adjusted to a scale ranging from 0 (no heat stress) to 5 (greatest heat stress). The heritability estimate ± SE of carcass weight in UNI was 0.17 ± 0.01. In MT2, the estimates were 0.14 ± 0.01 for “cold” and 0.28 ± 0.01 for “hot”; the genetic correlation between carcass weight in “hot” and “cold” months was 0.42 ± 0.13. The heritability estimates obtained with RR were 0.20 ± 0.11, 0.19 ± 0.15, and 0.51 ± 0.17 for H = 0, 2.5, and 5, respectively. The genetic correlation between the performance in “cold” months (H = 0), and performance under maximum heat load (H = 5) was 0.02, between H = 0 and intermediate heat load (H = 2.5) was 0.52, and between H = 2.5 and H = 5 was 0.86. Rank correlations between EPD derived from the different models ranged from 0.82 to 0.94 between carcass weights under similar H, 0.18 to 0.54 between carcass weights under high and low H, and 0.66 to 0.91 between carcass weights of intermediate and high/low H. Heritability for growth was greater under heat stress. Selection for crossbred performance would be optimal when data for periods both in the absence and presence of heat stress were considered.

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