In DanBred, we are constantly working on how we can improve piglet survival while maintaining the economic progress for pig producers all around the world. Now, the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES, invests even more in securing a strong and competitive pig production by putting extra resources into optimising the breeding goal for LP5.
Since 2005, the piglet survival in breeding and multiplication herds has increased considerably. Simultaneously, slaughter pig producers have seen a striking improvement in the traits for their DanBred slaughter pigs, which has given them an economical advantage. However, this has created an unfavourable connection between the slaughter pig traits and the piglet survival. Therefore, the economic weight for LP5 was raised by 33 % for DanBred Landrace, DanBred Yorkshire and DanBred Duroc in the spring of 2021. The correction in the economic weighing will increase the pressure on piglet survival to maintain a balanced breeding goal. Still, the department of Breeding & Genetics in the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES, has more up its sleeve in order to improve the piglet survival!
“About 40 % of the development group has it as their main job to find a future-proof solution to continue increasing the piglet survival. We do this through looking at the great amounts of data that we get from DanBred’s breeding and multiplication herds. We develop new and innovative methods by using these large amounts of data in different ways to see how we should consider the survival and fertility traits going forward,” explains Christian Sørensen, head of research in Breeding & Genetics, the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES.
Focus on piglet survival
To be able to investigate the possibilities of improving LP5, it is central to look into the correlation between the fertility traits and the other traits in the DanBred breeding goal. In addition to that, we also investigate survival on different levels – on litter level as well as on the piglet’s level.
“Our preliminary results indicate that LP5 can be split into two – where the number of piglets born and survival until day 5 are separated in different statistical models. We expect that this new way of handling litter size and survival will increase the breeding progress for piglet survival,” says Tage Ostersen, head of Breeding & Genetics, the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES.
An important tool: simulation
In order to find the right way of improving the piglet survival, Breeding & Genetics use a computer simulation-tool to simulate the entire breeding system – from the DNA-string to the number of breeding animals in the herds on Bøgildgård (DanBred’s boar testing station) and on AI-stations for all three DanBred purebred breeds. The simulation-tool gives an important insight into how a new, possible trait will affect the entire breeding progress when selecting for this new trait.
“By using a complicated computer program, we can imitate the three breeds with the breeding system’s characteristics. This way, we can test the many different scenarios for the animals, and thereby, get a suggestion for the different strategies that will ensure the maximum breeding progress. In this case, for both traits (litter size and survival red.), but also for the slaughter pig traits. Through these scenarios, we can figure out what it takes to achieve the maximum breeding progress altogether, while the piglet survival is improved,” says Christian Sørensen.
Original text in Danish by Søs Lindeborg Pedersen, communication consultant, the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES.