Body development in sows, feed intake and maternal capacity. Part 1: performance, pre-breeding and lactation feed intake traits of primiparous sows

Lewis, C.R.G.; Bunter, K.L.

Animal An International Journal of Animal Bioscience 5(12): 1843-1854


ISSN/ISBN: 1751-732X
PMID: 22440460
DOI: 10.1017/s1751731111001121
Accession: 051840001

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This study examined the genetic and phenotypic associations between finisher performance, pre-breeding body condition of the gilt, subsequent lactation feed intake and survival of the primiparous sow to farrow in the second parity. Complete data were available on ~2200 sows, along with additional cohort and historical performance data. Genetic variation was observed for average lactation feed intake (heritability: 0.18 ± 0.04), with a significant proportion of observed variation in average intake attributable to variation in lactation length. Weight and body condition (fatness) at finishing were very highly correlated genetically (0.89 ± 0.03 and 0.90 ± 0.02) and moderately correlated phenotypically (0.58 ± 0.01 and 0.58 ± 0.01) with weight and body condition before mating. Estimates of genetic (r(g)) and phenotypic (r(p)) correlations between feed intake recorded at finishing and average lactation feed intake (LADI) were moderate (r(g) = 0.26 ± 0.16 and 0.42 ± 0.22) and low (r(p) = 0.07 ± 0.02 and 0.08 ± 0.03), with r(g) dependent on the models and data subsets used for lactation intake. Non-unity genetic correlations imply that different genetic control mechanisms regulate feed intake during growth and lactation. Moderate genetic correlations between lactation feed intake with live weight (TWT) or growth rate (TADG) recorded at selection and live weight before mating (0.42 ± 0.11, 0.42 ± 0.11 and 0.37 ± 0.15) were considerably higher than the corresponding phenotypic correlations for LADI with TADG or 29WT (0.09 ± 0.02 and 0.08 ± 0.02). Correlations between fatness at selection (TFAT) or mating (29FT) and LADI were negative but not significantly different from 0. Overall, these data suggest that there is exploitable genetic variation for feed intake during lactation, and that selection is possible if lactation feed intakes are recorded. However, genetic correlations suggest that early growth seems to be related to lactation feed intake capacity. There was generally no strong evidence that selection for lean growth potential in dam lines will substantially diminish sow lactation intake capacity as a correlated response.