Genetic improvement of sow longevity and its economic impact on commercial pork production

Author: B.E. Mote, T.V. Serenius, C. Supakorn, & K.J. Stalder
Year: 2019
Issue: 6
Volume: 49
Page: 1036 - 1046

Sow longevity (sow productive lifetime) plays an important role in economically efficient piglet production. Direct selection for sow longevity is not commonly practiced in any pig-breeding program. In recent years, an increased number of peer reviewed articles addressing the economic impact, genetic parameter estimates, and genomic information (including markers and single nucleotide polymorphisms for sow longevity) have been published in the scientific literature. The studies in the literature indicate that sow longevity is a complex trait having economic value and is an animal well-being concern for commercial pork producers. Studies have concluded that sufficient genetic variation exists so that selection to improve sow longevity should be effective. Unlike the dairy industry, the primary parent animal used in the swine industry is a crossbred female, typically F1 (Landrace X Large White or Yorkshire). Sow longevity has shown to be genetically related with prolificacy and leg conformation traits. Sow longevity seems to be the ideal trait to utilize genomic selection when attempting to improve the trait. The genetic correlation between purebred and crossbred sow longevity is low. Since the crossbred sow is the breeding objective, phenotypic data from the crossbred females should ideally be used when estimating the breeding values for sow longevity that are used in the indexes to evaluate nucleus animals. Genomic selection is best suited for sex-limited traits, traits expressed later in life, and many animals do not reach some defined end-point parity, sow longevity seems ideally suited to be evaluated using the latest genome enabled selection technology.

Keywords: heritability, leg conformation, selection, sow productive lifetime
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