Now, pig producers around the world, who use DanBred genetics, can look forward to even higher piglet survival.
At the moment, the newest trait in DanBred’s breeding goal, piglet survival, is starting to manifest through DanBred Duroc. And you can see that directly on your results when you buy DanBred! This means that in January 2023, it is expected that piglet survival in Danish production herds was 0.8 percentage points higher than just one year ago. And the expectation is that in May, there will be 1.1 percentage points more piglets that survive.
“We have seen the effects of the new breeding goal very quickly, for particularly Duroc, in the breeding herds. And because there is only a few months’ delay between breeding and production in Duroc, we expect that the improvement in piglet survival can already be seen in production as well,” says Tage Ostersen, Head of Department in Breeding & Genetics, Danish Agriculture & Food Council.
Goodbye and thank you to LG5, there’s a new breeding goal in town
Since year 2000, the answer to increased piglet survival has been the breeding goal LP5 (live piglets on day five after farrowing). Thanks to this trait in DanBred’s breeding goals, litter sizes have been growing rapidly over the years. As a result, production herds need fewer sows to produce the same number of weaned piglets.
But in june 2022, we updated our breeding goal to include a new trait for piglet survival: LP5 has been divided into three. Martin Mølgaard Pedersen, Head of Department in Breeding & Genetics, Danish Agriculture & Food Council, explains:
“With LP5, it was biology that determined whether the breeding progress should come from litter size or from increased survival. By splitting LP5 into three, we have more “handles” to turn and can better control whether we want progress for litter size or survival.”
Expected progress has already been accomplished
The sub-index for piglet survival in DanBred Duroc has already improved by two percentage points, and that is based on the pig’s own genetic progress. This means that the Duroc boars that are in the breeding herds and on Danish AI stations right now are two percent better at piglet survival than the boars that were there in the spring of 2022. These results are registered in Denmark, but we expect to see the same remarkable improvement worldwide.
Duroc boars only contribute with half of the genes needed to produce a DanBred finisher pig, but the progress in piglet survival has also manifested through the female breeds, Danbred Landrace and DanBred Yorkshire – although progress on the female side is moving more slowly.
“It’s pretty crazy that we can see this progress already. We only expected to see half of this within the first year,” says Tage Ostersen.
For many years, Duroc has had an important effect on the traits that became part of DanBred’s breeding goals. This was seen, among other things, when litter size became part of the breeding goal for Duroc in October 2015. Here, the change in Duroc had a significant effect in production herds already a few months later.
“When we change the breeding goal for Duroc, it has an immediate effect in the production. We expect this to also be the case for our new trait ‘piglet survival’,” says Tage Ostersen and adds: “We expect piglet survival to increase by one percentage point annually over the next few years. So, if a herd had a total piglet mortality rate of 22 percent in 2022, we expect that number to drop to 21 percent in 2023.”
Piglet survival became part of the DanBred breeding goals in the summer of 2022 to make the piglets even more robust. This will contribute to a greater financial gain for you as a pig producer!