The trait ‘Male fertility’ in DanBred Duroc breeding goal has changed into ‘Fertility & Survival’ effective Thursday February 27th, 2020. According to simulations from DanBred R&D – the Danish Pig Research Centre – this change will lead to improved piglet survival as early as this year.
When piglets survive the first five days, chances of the them making it all the way to slaughter increase markedly. This is evident from all studies carried out by DanBred R&D based on data from nucleus and multiplier herds. The trait LP5 (living piglets on day 5/litter) has long been included in the breeding goal for DanBred Yorkshire and DanBred Landrace, and now, increased survival will also be implemented in the breeding for DanBred Duroc.
“In DanBred Duroc, which is the terminal sire line, we have bred for increased ‘Male fertility’ for the past four years. This trait was included in the breeding goal in 2015 in order to increase litter size, among other aspects, and it has been a great success”, says Birgitte Ask, Chief Scientist, Danish Pig Research Centre.
She continues: “Litter size has increased significantly with almost immediate effect in the commercial production, but by changing this trait into ‘Fertility & Survival’ as we have done now, going forward the focus will not only be on litter size, but also on increased survival, due to the AI boar’s effect on living piglets on day 5/litter”.
Immediate improvement in piglet survival at production level
This change in the breeding goal for DanBred Duroc will lead to improved piglet survival – starting already this year according to calculations from DanBred R&D.
“In addition to the existing positive effect on survival gained from breeding for LP5, which has been part of the breeding goal for the maternal DanBred breeds since 2004, this new paternal trait in the breeding goal for DanBred Duroc will contribute even further to increasing piglet survival”, explains Birgitte Ask. “We will see an improvement of 0.05 extra living piglets on day 5/litter during the very first year, and during the following year, the figure will increase to 0.10 extra living piglets/litter, and so on”.
Although the improvement may appear relatively small, it is important to take into account the large number of litters born each year, and the fact that the number of surviving piglets will accumulate year after year – aspects that ultimately result in a significant positive effect on piglet survival.
Economic weight re-evaluated
The economic weight of the breeding goal has also been re-evaluated with the introduction of the new trait. Consequently, the economic weight now reflects the fact that the extra living piglet on day 5 is worth more than an extra piglet at farrowing.
“Surviving piglets are worth more money, and therefore the economic weight for “Fertility & Survival” is higher than that of the old trait, “Male fertility”. Specifically, the new value is € 1,49 per piglet per litter, compared to € 1,34 earlier”, concludes Birgitte Ask.