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Genetic analysis of pig survival up to commercial weight in a crossbred population

M. Dufrasne, I. Misztal, S. Tsuruta, N. Gengler, K.A. Gray
Livestock science 2014 v.167 pp. 19-24
Duroc, carcass weight, crossbreds, farrowing, finishing, genes, genetic correlation, genetic techniques and protocols, harvesting, heritability, models, mortality, residual effects, sires, swine, variance, weaning
Records from 99,384 crossbred pigs from Duroc sires and Large White×Landrace dams were used to estimate genetic parameters for survival traits at different stages of the fattening period, and their relations with final weight. Traits analyzed were preweaning mortality (PWM), culling between weaning and harvesting (Call), culling during the farrowing period (Cfar), in the nursery site (Cnur), during the finishing phase (Cfin), and hot carcass weight (HCW). Because of the binary nature of PWM and culling traits, threshold-linear models were used: Model 1, including PWM, Call, and HCW; Model 2, including PWM, Cfar, Cnur, Cfin, and HCW. Both models included sex and parity number as fixed effects for all traits. Contemporary groups were considered as fixed effect for HCW and as random effects for the binary traits. Random effects were sire additive genetic, common litter, and residual effects for all traits and models. Heritability estimates were 0.03 for PWM, and 0.15 for HCW with both models, 0.06 for Call with Model 1, and 0.06 for Cfar, 0.14 for Cnur, and 0.10 for Cfin with Model 2. Litter variance explained a large part of the total variance and its influence declined slightly with age. For Model 1, genetic correlations were −0.36 between PWM and Call, −0.02 between PWM and HCW, and −0.25 between Call and HCW; correlations for litter effect were −0.15 between PWM and Call, −0.19 between PWM and HCW, and −0.21 between Call and HCW. For Model 2, genetic correlations were all positive between PWM and culling traits, except between PWM and Cnur (−0.61). Genetic correlations between HCW and the other traits were moderate and negative to null. Correlations for common litter effect were all negative between traits, except between Cfar and Cfin, and between Cnur and Cfin. Heritability of PWM and culling traits increased with age period. Therefore, selection for survival after weaning may be more efficient. The low genetic correlations between PWM and culling traits suggest that different genes influence pre and postweaning mortality. The HCW was not correlated with the other traits. However, relationships are not strongly unfavorable, therefore selection for survival and high final weight is possible.