1st Page

Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Estimation of genetic parameters for traits associated with reproduction, lactation, and efficiency in sows1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 94 No. 11, p. 4516-4529
    Received: Dec 28, 2015
    Accepted: Aug 24, 2016
    Published: October 27, 2016

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. D. M. Thekkoot*,
  2. R. A. Kemp,
  3. M. F. Rothschild*,
  4. G. S. Plastow and
  5. J. C. M. Dekkers 2*
  1. * Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames
     Genesus Inc., Oakville, MB, Canada
     Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada


Increased milk production due to high litter size, coupled with low feed intake, results in excessive mobilization of sow body reserves during lactation, which can have detrimental effects on future reproductive performance. A possibility to prevent this is to improve sow lactation performance genetically, along with other traits of interest. The aim of this study was to estimate breed-specific genetic parameters (by parity, between parities, and across parities) for traits associated with lactation and reproduction in Yorkshire and Landrace sows. Performance data were available for 2,107 sows with 1 to 3 parities (3,424 farrowings total). Sow back fat, loin depth and BW at farrowing, sow feed intake (SFI), and body weight loss (BWL) during lactation showed moderate heritabilities (0.21 to 0.37) in both breeds, whereas back fat loss (BFL), loin depth loss (LDL), and litter weight gain (LWG) showed low heritabilities (0.12 to 0.18). Among the efficiency traits, sow lactation efficiency showed extremely low heritability (near zero) in Yorkshire sows but a slightly higher (0.05) estimate in Landrace sows, whereas sow residual feed intake (SRFI) and energy balance traits showed moderate heritabilities in both breeds. Genetic correlations indicated that SFI during lactation had strong negative genetic correlations with body resource mobilization traits (BWL, BFL, and LDL; −0.35 to −0.70), and tissue mobilization traits in turn had strong positive genetic correlations with LWG (+0.24 to +0.54; P < 0.05). However, SFI did not have a significant genetic correlation with LWG. These genetic correlations suggest that SFI during lactation is predominantly used for reducing sow body tissue losses, rather than for milk production. Estimates of genetic correlations for the same trait measured in parities 1 and 2 ranged from 0.64 to 0.98, which suggests that first and later parities should be treated as genetically different for some traits. Genetic correlations estimated between traits in parities 1 and 2 indicated that BWF and BWL measured in parity 1 can be used as indicator traits for SFI and SRFI measured in parities 1 and 2. In conclusion, traits associated with lactation in sows have a sizable genetic component and show potential for genetic improvement.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © 2016. American Society of Animal Science