Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Genetic improvement of pig survival

  • Funded by: The Pig Levy Foundation (Svineafgiftsfonden)
  • AU project manager: Senior researcher Guosheng Su, Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, AU
  • Grant: DKK 598,000 in 2021 / DKK 696,000 in 2022 (total grant DKK 1,294,000)
  • Grant period: 1 January 2021-31 December 2022

Project description

The purpose of this project is to improve pig welfare and increase pig production efficiency by reducing pig mortality before slaughter. The objective of the project is to explore quantitative genetic background of pig mortality in different periods until slaughter and the relationship with other important traits, and develop efficient methods to genetically reduce pig mortality by breeding.

To achieve the objectives of the project, the following activities will be performed.

1) Estimation of variance components of pig mortality in different periods until slaughter, and genetic correlation between pig mortality and the traits in current breeding goal, e.g., litter size. These parameters measure the potential of reducing pig mortality by selective breeding, and the impact of selection for a trait on another trait.

2) Development and implementation of advanced methods and models for predicting breeding values of pig survival. Different methods/models will be assessed with regard to prediction accuracy, unbiasedness and implementation feasibility.

3) Development and evaluation of breeding schemes to improve pig survival. The breeding schemes will balance genetic improvement of pig survival and genetic gains for other important traits. 

The project will provide knowledge and tools to increase pig survival until slaughter, and thus, improve pig welfare and increase pig production profit. From long term of view, it will enhance Danish pig production competitive ability, benefit for sustainable pig production, and reduce environmental burden/climate impact from pig production