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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Genetic relationships between measures of sexual development, boar taint, health, and aggressiveness in pigs1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 93 No. 8, p. 3749-3758
    Received: July 16, 2014
    Accepted: May 19, 2015
    Published: July 24, 2015

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. S. P. Parois 2*†,
  2. A. Prunier*†,
  3. M. J. Mercat,
  4. E. Merlot*† and
  5. C. Larzul§
  1. * INRA, UMR1348, PEGASE, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France
     Agrocampus Ouest, UMR1348 PEGASE, F-35000 Rennes, France
     IFIP, F-35651 Le Rheu
    § INRA, UMR1388, GENPHYSE, F-31320 Castanet-Tolosan, France


Breeding intact boars is a promising alternative to surgical castration of piglets. Genetic selection should enable farmers to solve problems due to boar taint and aggressiveness while taking into account potential consequences on other traits of interest. The aim of the study was to estimate genetic relations between sexual development, boar taint, health, and aggressiveness. About 1,600 Pietrain (purebred) or Pietrain × Large White (crossbred) boars were raised in a testing station. Blood samples were collected at about 105 kg BW for measuring sex hormones (testosterone and estradiol) and indicators of the inflammatory status (C-reactive protein [CRP], pig major acute-phase protein [pigMAP], and blood formula). Animals were slaughtered 9 d later and measured for boar taint compounds present in fat (androstenone and skatole) and skin lesions on carcass, an indicator of aggressiveness. For both genetic types, heritability was moderate for sex hormones (from 0.17 to 0.29) and skatole (0.24 for purebred and 0.37 for crossbred) and high for androstenone (0.63 and 0.70 for purebred and crossbred, respectively). Genetic correlations between sex hormones and boar taint compounds were moderate to high (from 0.31 to 0.95). Heritability was moderate for CRP (0.24 and 0.46 for purebred and crossbred, respectively) and very low for pigMAP (0.06 and 0.05 for purebred and crossbred, respectively). Numbers of leukocytes had moderate to high heritabilities according to the genetic type (from 0.21 to 0.52). Heritability of skin lesions was moderate for both genetic types (0.31). Genetic correlations were negative between sex hormones and inflammatory measures (from –0.46 to –0.05), positive between testosterone and number of lesions (0.43 and 0.53 for purebred and crossbred, respectively), and low between androstenone and lesions (–0.06 and –0.17 for purebred and crossbred, respectively[). Overall, both breeds of pigs had very similar estimations of heritabilities, but estimates of genetic correlations were different for some pairs of traits. It would be possible to select boars based on their plasma concentration of sex hormones to decrease boar taint and aggressiveness without important consequences on the immune response. However, because of the strong links between boar taint and reproductive function, the possible consequences on the reproductive performance should be evaluated.

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