Research outputs

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Main research question/goal
The goal is to develop an advisory system for boar selection  that allows (1) to correct the breeding value for farm-specific circumstances (feed, sow genetics, environment) and (2) to provide company-specific advice regarding the optimal boar. The research questions are: 1. Do genotype-feed-environment interactions affect the genetic evaluation of boars? 2. Can we integrate farm data into the genetic evaluation through an automatic procedure? 3. What are the underlying causes of genotype x feed interactions and what is the impact on nitrogen emissions? In Flanders, boars are currently genetically evaluated through the performance of 18 or 21 offspring tested under standardized conditions (constant and known sow line, constant feed composition, standardized management). This method does not allow for a correction of  the breeding value for environmental influences on commercial farms.

Research approach
On ILVO’s experimental farm and on a number of commercial farms, the interactions between the genotype of the boar and environmental factors are recorded. For this, we test the offspring of 5  boars under different conditions. We measure the growth rate and carcass quality and calculate the feed efficiency of the pigs. Subsequently we examine how the genetic evaluation can be adapted according to farm-specific characteristics. A specific focus is on the interaction between nutrition and genetics: We compare the growth of piglets both on a feed with lower nutrient levels as on a feed with high nutrient levels and investigate whether the offspring of boars cope with this differently.

In Flanders, most growing-finishing pigs are a cross between a hybrid sow and a Pietrain boar. This leads to a fattening pig with a high lean meat content. In farms, through the use of artificial insemination (AI), the choice of boar is flexible. We expect a more representative genetic evaluation to lead to a better choice of boar for AI. This will result in a better economic and environmental performance of the pig and contributes to a more sustainable pig husbandry.

Funding provider(s)
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen

External partner(s)
KULeuven - Dept. Biosystemen
Effective start/end date1/11/1131/07/16

ID: 4162986