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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Quantitative Genetics

Genetic components of heat stress in finishing pigs: Development of a heat load function


This article in

  1. Vol. 86 No. 9, p. 2082-2088
    Received: Aug 16, 2007
    Accepted: Apr 21, 2008
    Published: December 5, 2014

    1 Corresponding author(s):

  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 quantify the effect of heat stress during the life of a pig on its final weight, as a first step toward a genetic evaluation for heat tolerance. Data included carcass weights of 23,556 crossbred pigs [Duroc × (Landrace × Large White)] raised on 2 farms in North Carolina and slaughtered from May 2005 through December 2006. Weather data were available from a nearby weather station. Lifetime of a pig was assumed to be partitioned into 2 periods. During an initial period, the effect of heat stress was assumed to be negligible or compensated for later. During the second period ending in slaughtering, the ADG was assumed to be affected linearly by heat load. Weekly heat load was calculated as degrees of average temperature-humidity index in excess of a threshold (18°C). The total heat load (H) was the sum of weekly heat loads during the second period. During the months of January to May H was 0; H reached a peak in September. The final BW during the peak of heat stress decreased about 6 kg compared with BW during months of non-heat stress. Weekly and monthly averages of carcass weight generally moved similarly to H. However, there were large fluctuations unrelated to H; the fluctuations were different on the 2 farms. The model included the effects of farm-year of slaughter, sex, age at slaughter, and H, where age at slaughter and H were linear regressions. In analyses, the threshold was varied from 16 to 20°C, and the second period was varied from 8 to 16 wk. The greatest R2 (10.4%) was at the threshold of temperature-humidity index = 18°C for a period of 10 wk. Varying the threshold and the length of time reduced R2 less than 1%. Least squares means of year-month and year-week of carcass weight were calculated using a model with the fixed effects farm-year-month or farm-year-week of slaughter, sex, and age at slaughter (linear covariate), and the random effect of birth litter. Changes in BW of finisher pigs due to heat stress can be quantified by H during the last 10 wk of the life of the pig.

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