Estimation of direct and maternal genetic parameters for individual birth weight, weaning weight, and probe weight in Yorkshire and Landrace pigs
Alves, K.; Schenkel, F.S.; Brito, L.F.; Robinson, A.
Journal of Animal Science 96(7): 2567-2578
ISSN/ISBN: 1525-3163 PMID: 29762734 DOI: 10.1093/jas/sky172
As a result of selecting for increased litter size, newborn piglets are being born lighter and have a lower chance of survival. Raising fewer pigs to market weight would have a negative impact on the industry and farmer profitability; thus, understanding the genetics of individual growth performance traits will determine whether these traits will play an important role in pig breeding schemes. This study aimed to estimate genetic parameters for individual birth weight (BW), weaning weight (WW), and probe weight (PW) in Canadian-purebred Yorkshire and Landrace pigs. PW is a live weight taken at the time of the ultrasound measurements, when pigs weigh about 100 kg. Data were collected from 2 large and related breeding herds from 2003 to 2015. Four linear animal models were used, which included the following: Model 1-direct additive genetic effect; Model 2-direct additive genetic and maternal genetic effect; Model 3-direct additive genetic and common litter effect; and Model 4-direct additive genetic, maternal genetic, and common litter effect. The model which included all 3 random effects (Model 4) was determined to be the best fit to the data. Low to moderate direct heritability estimates were observed as follows: 0.15 ± 0.03 for BW, 0.04 ± 0.01 for WW, and 0.33 ± 0.03 for PW for the Yorkshire breed; and 0.05 ± 0.01 for BW, 0.01 ± 0.01 for WW, and 0.27 ± 0.03 for PW in the Landrace breed. As expected, the direct heritability estimates increased with age as a result of decreased maternal influence on the trait. Bivariate animal models were also used to estimate genetic and environmental correlations between traits. Strong direct genetic correlations were observed between BW and WW in both breeds. Based on the estimates of genetic parameters, individual BW could be evaluated and considered in breeding programs aiming to increase BW and improve subsequent performance. Different selection emphasis could also be applied on direct and maternal additive genetic effects on BW to optimize the breeding programs and improve selection efficiency.