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Tech Forum Alert
Gene transfer and genetic improvement
Benny van Haandel and Patrick Charagu

Various new reproduction and breeding technologies will have great influences on modern pig production and will change the current production structure and breeding pyramids.


In order to paint a good picture of these influences in the future as we perceive them, it is best to first look at the current model(s) of the pig production industry. Current breeding pyramids are partly determined by the reproduction rate of swine, the usage of fresh semen with a limited shelf life of 4-5 days, and the application of quantitative genetics to estimate genetic values.


Relatively small numbers of nucleus and multiplication boars are needed to produce crossbred sows for the commercial level. A significant amount of terminal sires are placed in AI studs to provide terminal sire semen to the production systems. The differentiation between maternal and terminal sire lines leads to an efficient production of slaughter animals. Terminal sires, either crossbred or purebred/synthetic lines, are selected to steer the final products according to the needs of the market.


This has lead to a widely used and accepted conventional ABCD breeding pyramid or a BCD pyramid in cases where terminal sires are purebred. The biggest challenges of this breeding pyramid model are the health status, generation interval, and uniformity of final products (ABCD). Every level is a health challenge when animal shipments are involved. The ultimate objective of the model is to bring genetic improvement as fast and as bit securely as possible to the commercial level and create products of the highest quality. Nucleus populations have to have the highest health status and at the end of the breeding pyramid the highest realisable and maintainable health status is the target.


Quite often it happens that the health status at the lower levels of the pyramid is lower (more disease challenge) than at the nucleus level. This necessitates the implementation of various quarantine, adaptation and vaccination protocols to acclimatise the animals being moved down the pyramid to the health statuses of the target levels.


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Article made possible through the contribution of Hypor.

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