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We are always looking at even the smallest details to benefit your bottom line. DanBred was the first breeding company in the world to use genomic selection in its breeding work for pigs. Today, all breeding candidates are tested – an achievement that benefits the pig producers.


By taking samples of hair from all DanBred breeding candidates, we have a wealth of information about the pigs that can be used to improve breeding progress. The technology, known as genomic selection, was first deployed ten years ago.

”At the beginning, we tested 10 % of the breeding candidates, but now we test 100 %. The increase is not so surprising because genomic selection enables us to identify the pigs that have the best genetic features, and we can use that knowledge to develop the traits of the pigs,” says Tage Ostersen, Head of Department at the Danish Pig Research Centre.


Improved bottom line

There have been significant advances in breeding progress since genomic selection was introduced into DanBred’s breeding system in 2010. There are, of course, a large number of other factors that play a part in the increased economic value of a DanBred pig. Over the past ten years, however, the curve has become steeper and the assessment is that genomic selection has boosted breeding progress by 30 %.

”Some of the most valuable traits are also some of the most difficult to measure, e.g. feed conversion and litter size. They benefit the bottom line and also contribute to more sustainable production. In this respect, we are in no doubt that genomic selection has had a large part to play in the significant progress of recent years,” says Tage Ostersen.


Increased genetic gain of €1.69

Every year, DanBred can document an increased genetic progress for both purebred breeding animals and DanBred Finishers, and this year is no exception. The genetic gain for each trait in the breeding goal is calculated as a rolling annual average for the past three years, and in total, DanBred has generated genetic gain worth €1.69 per DanBred Finisher per year.

This is a result that everyone with DanBred genetics in their herd benefits from, and it further adds to the record-breaking improvements achieved in preceding years. The progress for the individual traits of the breeding goal are documented in the table below.

Daily gain 30 kg – slaughter (g/day) 20
Daily gain birth – 30 kg (g/day) 1.1
Feed conversion (kg feed/kg gain) -0.040
Lean meat percentage (%) 0.18
LP5 (live piglets on day 5/litter) 0.29
Conformation (points) 0.13
Longevity (proportion) -0.01
Killing out (kg) -0.04
Fertility & Survival, paternal effect (live piglets on day 5/litter) 0.20

Table 1. The average annual genetic progress per DanBred finisher
(rolling annual average for the past three years 2018-2020)


Digging deeper

The Danish Pig Research Centre, which is responsible for DanBred’s breeding work, continues to develop new methods to improve genetics. The most recent addition is metabolomic selection. Whereas genomic selection provides an insight into a pig’s DNA, metabolomic selection provides even more information about the composition of a pig at molecular level. Using around 10,000 measuring points, we are able to obtain information on which molecules a pig possesses as well as their concentration. This provides an insight into how genes affect a pig’s physiological condition. The aim is to use the information to improve breeding progress.

”Up until now it has been both expensive and difficult to work with genetic selection for the traits the project is focusing on. But we believe that the new method will generate more progress for meat percentage and feed efficiency,” says Tage Ostersen.

Metabolomic selection is being developed in collaboration with DanBred, Aarhus University and Nordic Seed with support from GUDP, the Green Development and Demonstration Programme under the auspices of Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food.


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