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This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 88 No. 12, p. 3800-3808
    Received: Aug 19, 2009
    Accepted: July 22, 2010
    Published: December 4, 2014

    1 Corresponding author(s):


Genetic analyses of stillbirth in relation to litter size using random regression models

  1. C. Y. Chen 1,
  2. I. Misztal*,
  3. S. Tsuruta*,
  4. W. O. Herring,
  5. J. Holl and
  6. M. Culbertson
  1. Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-2771; and
    Smithfield Premium Genetics Group, PO Box 668, Rose Hill, NC 28458



Estimates of genetic parameters for number of stillborns (NSB) in relation to litter size (LS) were obtained with random regression models (RRM). Data were collected from 4 purebred Duroc nucleus farms between 2004 and 2008. Two data sets with 6,575 litters for the first parity (P1) and 6,259 litters for the second to fifth parity (P2–5) with a total of 8,217 and 5,066 animals in the pedigree were analyzed separately. Number of stillborns was studied as a trait on sow level. Fixed effects were contemporary groups (farm-year-season) and fixed cubic regression coefficients on LS with Legendre polynomials. Models for P2–5 included the fixed effect of parity. Random effects were additive genetic effects for both data sets with permanent environmental effects included for P2–5. Random effects modeled with Legendre polynomials (RRM-L), linear splines (RRM-S), and degree 0 B-splines (RRM-BS) with regressions on LS were used. For P1, the order of polynomial, the number of knots, and the number of intervals used for respective models were quadratic, 3, and 3, respectively. For P2–5, the same parameters were linear, 2, and 2, respectively. Heterogeneous residual variances were considered in the models. For P1, estimates of heritability were 12 to 15%, 5 to 6%, and 6 to 7% in LS 5, 9, and 13, respectively. For P2–5, estimates were 15 to 17%, 4 to 5%, and 4 to 6% in LS 6, 9, and 12, respectively. For P1, average estimates of genetic correlations between LS 5 to 9, 5 to 13, and 9 to 13 were 0.53, −0.29, and 0.65, respectively. For P2–5, same estimates averaged for RRM-L and RRM-S were 0.75, −0.21, and 0.50, respectively. For RRM-BS with 2 intervals, the correlation was 0.66 between LS 5 to 7 and 8 to 13. Parameters obtained by 3 RRM revealed the nonlinear relationship between additive genetic effect of NSB and the environmental deviation of LS. The negative correlations between the 2 extreme LS might possibly indicate different genetic bases on incidence of stillbirth.

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