Increased focus on piglet survival

By Danish Genetics - Thursday, 18 March 2021

The focus is on improving the genetic potential of the sow for producing robust piglets. This will produce sows that can give birth to robust piglets at birth, higher weight gain to weaning, and more piglet survival. Such factors contribute to more piglets weaned per sow per year.

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Good mothering ability is essential to secure robust and efficient piglets. Danish Pig Genetics aims to increase the sustainability of pig production by selection for mothering ability with the breeding goals of piglet survival and the maternal effect on the piglet’s early growth in maternal lines.

Direct selection for piglet survival

As part of goals on further improving robustness of piglets and sows, Danish Pig Genetics has developed a new breeding goal to select directly for pre-weaning piglet survival which is expected to result in producing more viable piglets and more meat at weaning per sow. The breeding goal of piglet survival is defined as the sow’s genetic effect on the percentage of alive piglets on day 21 after farrowing per litter. The genetic progress in piglet survival is expected to increase further by implementation of the piglet survival breeding goal.

Contribution to increased sustainability

An increased piglet survival will result in more weaned piglets per sow per year which will decrease the number of sows needed to produce the same amount of meat. This has sustainable effect on the environment, economy, and welfare aspects of pork production. Piglet survival and early growth from birth to 30 kg are expected to contribute to heavier and stronger piglets during farrowing unit, and thereby more sow productivity and more animal welfare. In addition, early growth contributes to reduction of the resources needed such as housing, energy, and labor. This will have a positive influence on both environment and economy.