DanBred is launching a new project to find the sows with the greatest genetic potential for high litter weight gain, which may, in the long run, become a trait that DanBred can select for and incorporate as a part of our balanced breeding goal for DanBred Landrace and DanBred Yorkshire.
Addressing all important factors in one trait
As litter size has increased significantly due to successful breeding, pig producers across the world have requested more teats on their breeding sows to further support the growing litters. However, there is no scientific evidence that more teats contribute to improved litter weight gain or the sows’ ability to wean their own piglets, and DanBred therefore intends to address the producers’ wishes in a different and more efficient manner with the new R&D project.
Specifically, DanBred will focus on identifying the sows with the litters with greatest weight gain, and the goal is to ultimately implement litter weight gain into the DanBred breeding goal for DanBred Landrace and DanBred Yorkshire.
“To have a successful breeding strategy, it is important to focus on traits that directly translate into the end-goal – in this case many healthy and robust weaned piglets – rather than simply acting only on an isolated subcomponent to the matter, such as teats, with a questionable link to the end-goal. In this case, the desire is to increase survival rates and improve the sows’ ability to manage their own piglets, and these aspirations involve more aspect that just increasing the number of teats. We believe that an increased litter weight gain can help accomplish these goals, which is why we are now working on finding sows with the greatest litter weight gain regardless of the number of teats”, says Martin Mølgaard Pedersen, DanBred R&D, Danish Pig Research Centre.
‘Litter weight gain’ also speaks to high management standards
The current DanBred breeding goal for DanBred Landrace and DanBred Yorkshire include the trait LP5, living piglets on day 5 after farrowing, which was originally implemented to increase litter size and piglet survival simultaneously. The success of this trait has given DanBred a substantial lead and promotes both animal health and welfare as well as productivity and profit.
Nevertheless, the increases in the number of piglets also is a good cause for taking a new look at correct management routines. A sow with a potential for high litter weight gain will wean more robust piglets with greater levels of health and welfare. Consequently, breeding for the greatest litter weight gain will help to further streamline the management of the hyper-prolific DanBred Hybrid sows.
“We continuously listen to the needs of our customers, and we take notice of the fact that the top producers are well able to handle hyper-prolific DanBred Hybrid sows that wean many piglets with superior weight. We are confident that we can contribute further to this development through the DanBred breeding programme, where increased litter weight gain will be a big step in this direction”, says Helle Palmø, Chief Geneticist at DanBred.
At the same time, Helle Palmø does not reject the possibility that there may be more teats on the sows in the future. “If having additional teats is genetically related to the sows’ ability to manage large litter sizes and wean heavier piglets, then this will automatically be included in the future breeding”, concludes Helle Palmø.