Crossbreeding can be a very useful tool for the pork producer to increase the efficiency and profit of an operation. Full benefits from crossbreeding can be gained only by careful combination of available breeds and selection of outstanding breeding animal replacements from within those breeds. Crossbreeding programs must be systematic and well-planned to take full advantage of heterosis and breed differences.
Crossbreeding enables the producer to take advantage of heterosis and to combine desirable characteristics of different breeds. Heterosis is the difference between crossbred animals and the average of their purebred counterparts. Desirable characteristics of different breeds can be utilized if some breeds can be identified as good maternal breeds and others as good paternal breeds. A system where males from paternal breeds (superior growth and carcass) are mated to females from maternal breeds (superior reproduction and mothering ability) can take advantage of the strengths of both breeds while minimizing some of the weaknesses.
Carefully designed crossbreeding programs can be used to enhance improvement from selections made in the purebreds. Crossbreeding does not change the genes that are present in a population but arranges them in more favorable combinations. Therefore, the initial boost from crossbreeding can be maintained by continued crossing. Permanent improvement can result only through selection.
Two basic systems exist, each of which has several variations. They can also be used in combination. These are the rotational cross system and the terminal cross system. Rotational cross systems combine two or more breeds, where the breed of boar used is different from the previous generation and replacement crossbred females are retained from each cross. The major difference is that rotational cross replacement females are produced within the system while terminal cross female replacements are usually purchased or produced by maintaining purebred herds that emphasise reproductive performance.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Oklahoma State University.