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Effective Selection for Lower Mortality in Organic Pigs through Selection for Total Number Born and Number of Dead Piglets

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Selection for the number of living pigs on day 11 (L11) aims to reduce piglet mortality and increase litter size simultaneously. This approach could be sub-optimal, especially for organic pig breeding. This study evaluated the effect of selecting for a trait by separating it into two traits. Genetic parameters for L11, the total number born (TNB), and the number of dead piglets at day 11 (D11) were estimated using data obtained from an organic pig population in Denmark. Based on these estimates, two alternative breeding schemes were simulated. Specifically, selection was made using: (1) a breeding goal with L11 only versus (2) a breeding goal with TNB and D11. Different weightings for TNB and D11 were tested. The simulations showed that selection using the first breeding scheme (L11) produced lower annual genetic gain (0.201) compared to the second (TNB and D11; 0.207). A sensitivity analysis showed that the second scheme performed better because it exploited differences in heritability, and accounted for genetic correlations between the two traits. When the second breeding scheme placed more emphasis on D11, D11 declined, whereas genetic gain for L11 remained high (0.190). In conclusion, selection for L11 could be optimized by separating it into two correlated traits with different heritability, reducing piglet mortality and enhancing L11.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1796
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

    Research areas

  • BIRTH-WEIGHT, GENETIC-PARAMETERS, TRAITS, breeding for welfare, index selection, organic pig, restricted gain

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