Pig production has experienced a huge progress for daily gain, feed conversion, and lean meat percentage in the last few years. These three traits are important aspects of the DanBred breeding goal, as they are key elements in ensuring a more sustainable pig production – with an improved bottom line for pig producers.
Over the years, the traits of slaughter pigs have improved a lot within DanBred’s breeding and multiplier herds as well as in the production herds. The latest numbers from our in-herd performance testing and the boar testing station, Bøgildgård, show that the improvement has not yet reached an ultimate high – the progress continues! One major reason for the success is the breeding progress for daily gain, feed conversion, and lean meat percentage; traits that are all included in the DanBred breeding goal. Our breeding goal includes traits that result in the greatest possible benefit for our customers’ production economy.
“The breeding progress that we’re currently seeing for our purebred animals will be significant for the production in the following years. This means that the production animals, which are crossbreeds of all three DanBred races, will see a continuous increase in daily gain, feed conversion, and lean meat percentage.” explains Martin Mølgaard Pedersen, head of Breeding & Genetics in the Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES.
Selection of DanBred breeding animals
Within the DanBred breeding program approx. 100,000 breeding animals are performance tested every year. An additional 7,000-8,000 performance tests of boars are carried out each year on Bøgildgård. The best boars are selected and sent to one of DanBred’s AI stations.
“It’s the top boars from the testing station that are sent to DanBred’s AI stations, where their semen is collected – the semen is then used to produce slaughter pigs. This way, we choose the very best breeding animals based on DanBred’s breeding goal, which will contribute to a more effective pig production and improve the bottom line for producers.” says Martin.
We have seen impressive results on Bøgildgård in the latest years! In 2020, DanBred Duroc had an average feed conversion of 1.83 kg feed per kg gain, and DanBred Landrace/DanBred Yorkshire had an average feed conversion of 1.94 kg feed per kg gain. Moreover, the average daily gain was 1,258 grams for DanBred Duroc, and 1,102 grams for DanBred Landrace/Yorkshire.
Breeding progress impacts production
In 2016, a study from Bøgildgård found that the breeding progress achieved in DanBred’s breeding program also manifests in the production herds. Usually, it is not given that the breeding progress achieved in the purebred populations will show in the production herds, since environmental factors, such as management, health status, and feed quality, can differ from breeding herd to production herd. Furthermore, the pigs in a breeding herd are purebred, while the pigs in a production herd are crossbreeds.
In this study, the crossbreeds actually performed better than the purebreds. To prevent the environmental factors from influencing the study, the pigs were all tested in the same environment. Still, the results showed a difference in how the pigs performed – thus, this was due to the genetics and not the environmental factors. The study showed an efficiency of 140 % for daily gain, 188 % for lean meat percentage, and 82 % for feed conversion. On account of heterosis, the efficiencies for daily gain and lean meat percentage were actually higher than the expected 100 %, which means the slaughter pig traits were even more pronounced in the crossbreeds.
Original text in Danish by Søs Lindeborg Pedersen, communication consultant, Danish Pig Research Centre, SEGES.
Heterosis refers to the phenomenon of the offspring exceeding the average performance of its purebred parents.
This mens that e.g. DanBred D(LY) crossbreds typically perform better than the average performance of the purebreds DanBred Duroc, DanBred Landrace and DanBred Yorkshire.