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Thinh Tuan Chu

Genetic parameters of piglet mortality in Danish organic pigs

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Piglet mortality from pre-farrowing to weaning is a major concern, especially in outdoor organic production systems. This may result in impaired animal welfare and economic losses for the farmer. Management tools that are commonly used in indoor pig production systems are difficult to apply in the organic or outdoor production systems. Using genetics and breeding to improve piglet survival might be especially favorable in this situation. However, little is known about the genetic background underlying survival traits in organic pigs. Therefore, this study aimed at estimating genetic parameters for piglet mortality in a Danish organic pig population. The analyzed dataset included mortality records of piglets from pre-farrowing to weaning (around 70 days of age). Pedigree-based threshold models were used to analyze the mortality traits of piglets at 0 to 3 days of age, 4 to 11, and 12 to weaning. Stillborn piglets were included in the group of piglets dying at 0 to 3 days of age. Heritability estimates on the liability
scale were calculated. We found that the mortality rate of piglets was highest at 0 to 3 days of age, accounting for 68% of all piglet deaths from pre-farrowing to weaning. Mortality from days 0 to 3 had a direct heritability close to zero, whereas the maternal heritability was 0.023. For piglet mortality from day 4 to 11 and from day 12 to weaning, the direct heritability was 0.002 and 0.017, respectively; and the maternal heritability was 0.016 and 0.004, respectively. These results suggest that when the piglets are young, piglet mortality is predominantly due to the sows’ genotype, but at a later age, it is due to the piglets’ own genotype. In conclusion, selection must focus more on the genotypes of the sows rather than on the piglets when breeding for reduced mortality of piglets in organic pig production.
Translated title of the contributionGenetic parameters of piglet mortality in Danish organic pigs
Original languageDanish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 72nd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
PublisherWageningen Academic Publicers
Publication yearAug 2021
ISBN (print)978-90-8686-366-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-918-3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Event72nd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science - Congress Centre Davos, Davos, Switzerland
Duration: 29 Aug 20213 Sep 2021


Conference72nd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
LocationCongress Centre Davos
SeriesEAAP Book of Abstracts

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