Danish Genetics is increasing its focus on piglet survival via a development project that deals with birth weight registration. The intention is to have more uniform piglets.
Already in the spring of 2021, Danish Genetics increased its focus on piglet survival by implementing direct breeding for piglet survival as well as the number of viable piglets in the litter. To further strengthen the path to an increased piglet survival, Danish Genetics has started a new development project. The intention is, in the future, to be able to breed for piglets with a more uniform birth weight in the litter. This concept will strengthen Danish Genetics’ path to increased piglet survival and a more sustainable breeding programme.
New development project at Danish Genetics
The breeding programme at Danish Genetics has a special focus on piglet survival as well as robust and efficient pigs. Among other things, the genetics company achieves this through direct breeding for piglet survival and viable piglets. To further strengthen that goal, the company has launched a project of individual birth weight registration for all live-born, purebred Landrace and Yorkshire piglets in the breeding herds. The breeds Landrace and Yorkshire have been chosen, as these breeds form the maternal lines in Danish Genetics’ breeding programme.
Increased piglet survival
With registration of the individual birth weight of piglets within the maternal lines Landrace and Yorkshire, Danish Genetics aims to be able to breed for more robust pigs and a higher piglet survival – and ultimately more weaned pigs per sow per year. This will affect the sustainability in a positive way, as increased piglet survival ultimately will lead to a need for fewer sows to produce the same number of piglets. The project is of great importance from an economic, environmental, and animal welfare point of view, which is why it is also an important topic in the industry.
Unique tool to secure high data quality
For individual registration of birth weight for all live-born, purebred Landrace and Yorkshire piglets in breeding herds, Danish Genetics has developed a specially designed trolley as well as a unique tool that can be used with a hand-held scanner. This is done to ensure both high data quality and the opportunity for further development.
With the handheld scanner, it is possible with a few taps to scan the individual piglet’s electronic ear tags and register the ID number of the piglet. The scanner is connected to the weight through Bluetooth. This way the piglet’s weight is registered directly in the database. Due to the construction of the trolley with the weight, the registration of birth weight can be done in connection with the routine handling of the newborn litters.
All registrations are transferred directly to Danish Genetics’ database, which helps to ensure both data quality and the further development of the tool. These tools make it possible to collect data on birth weight and birth weight variation within the individual litter on all purebred Landrace and Yorkshire litters in the breeding herds.
Large amount of data for further breeding work
Through birth weight registration of all live-born, purebred Landrace and Yorkshire piglets in breeding herds, Danish Genetics collects large amounts of data. These data are an important part of being able to calculate heritability and correlations to the remaining breeding goals for the population. This provides the opportunity to work with future implementation of breeding goals for uniformity in birth weight within the litter.
Robust and efficient pigs with a higher piglet survival, provide better production economy for the farmer and at the same time, it will have a positive impact on both animal welfare and the environment.
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