Comparison of methods to study uniformity of traits: Application to birth weight in pigs

E.B. Sell-Kubiak, P. Bijma, E.F. Knol, H.A. Mulder

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing uniformity of traits is an important objective in livestock production. This study focused on the BWcomparison of a double hierarchical GLM (DHGLM) with the conventional analysis of uniformity, using within-litter variation in birth weight (BW0) in pigs as a case. In pigs, within-litter variation of BW0 is a trait in which uniformity is important in breeding practice. Traditionally, uniformity has been studied by analysis of SD or variances. In DHGLM, differences between animals are studied by analyzing the residual variance of the trait and estimating its variance components. Here we used data on BW0, recorded in 2 sow lines (Large White and Landrace), to compare the estimation of genetic parameters and breeding values for uniformity from DHGLM and traditional analysis of the variance. Comparison of DHGLM with the conventional analysis using the logarithm-transformed variance of BW0 was possible because both methods were on the same scale and the models contained the same random effects. In addition, the genetic CV at the residual SD level (GCVSDe) was proposed as a measure expressing the potential response to selection. Three-fold cross-validation was performed to study predictive ability of both methods. The estimated GCVSDe was highly similar using both methods. Results indicate that the SD of BW0 can be decreased by up to approximately 10% after 1 generation of selection, indicating good prospects for response to selection. The correlation between EBV (0.88 in both sow lines) obtained from both methods indicated high similarity between conventional analysis and DHGLM. Comparison of accuracies of EBV showed that the methods were comparable, with moderate accuracies achieved with approximately 100 piglets per maternal grandsire. Cross-validation also indicated very similar predictive ability in estimating EBV for BW0 variation for both methods. Therefore, it was concluded that conventional analysis and DHGLM produced highly comparable results. Still, the DHGLM potentially has a broader application than conventional analysis to study uniformity of traits, because it also can be used for traits with single observations per animal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-911
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • generalized linear-models
  • genetic-parameters
  • litter size
  • environmental variance
  • residual variance
  • individual birth
  • piglet survival
  • breeding values
  • domestic pig
  • selection

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