Genetic correlations between lactation performance and growing-finishing traits in pigs

R. Bergsma, P.K. Mathur, E. Kanis, M.W.A. Verstegen, E.F. Knol, J.A.M. van Arendonk

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic selection for increased litter size of sows increases the risk of a large negative energy balance during lactation. Furthermore, the feed intake capacity of the lactating sows might be reduced due to the simultaneous selection for greater feed efficiency during the growth phase when sows were actually reared as finishers but later on selected for breeding. There is a need to improve lactation performance of sows and continue selection for feed efficiency of grower-finishers in commercial breeding. Therefore, this study was conducted to estimate genetic correlations between growing-finishing traits and lactation performance traits. An additional objective was to study the impact of including additive social effects in the animal model on genetic correlation estimates. Analyses were performed on a population of 1,149 commercial crossbred sows with repeated observations on lactation performance traits and their 7,723 grower-finisher offspring. The genetic correlation between daily BW gain of grower-finishers and starting BW of lactating sows was positive (rg = 0.24; P <0.05). The correlation between off-test backfat of grower-finishers and fat mass of lactating sows was also positive (rg = 0.53; P <0.05). The genetic regulation of feed intake from the beginning of lactation seems to differ from the genetic regulation of feed intake during the growing-finishing period, as the correlation between these 2 traits was low (rg = +0.23; P <0.05). Feed efficiency during growing-finishing and lactation phases showed similar tendencies as the genetic correlation between residual feed intake of the grower-finisher and lactation efficiency of sows was –0.51 (P <0.05). Taking heritable social effects into account for daily BW gain and feed intake did not affect the genetic correlation estimates, either within growing-finishing traits or between growing-finishing traits and lactation performance traits. It was concluded that in the absence of antagonistic genetic correlations, selection for growing-finishing traits in dam lines could be combined with selection for lactation performance traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3601-3611
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • feed-intake
  • multilevel selection
  • body development
  • sows
  • parameters
  • growth
  • inheritance
  • components
  • efficiency
  • energy


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