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New breeding strategies for better longevity and animal welfare in future crossbred sows


The TN70 sow is a cross between Landrace and Large White and is one of the most important animals in the pig production chain, as she produces the largest number of piglets and is very popular due to her excellent mothering ability. We aim to improve another trait in the TN70 sow, longevity, its ability to produce a high number of litters without reduced health and animal welfare. It is vital for the development of Norwegian swine genetics that we work even better towards improved longevity in the future. The trait is difficult to evaluate in purebred nucleus animals, as this would lead to a reduced turnover of animals, and thus a reduction in genetic gain. Solving this challenge within the current framework is tough. Several approaches to solve this problem have been attempted in the past with limited success. Part of the challenge is the differences that occur due to some animals being purebreds and some animals being crossbred. This creates statistical challenges due to differences in interactions between genes depending on whether they are from purebreds or crossbreds, and different interactions between genotypes and the environment. We will develop new methods for evaluating longevity through big data approaches such as machine learning and the inclusion of sensor technology to evaluate conditions at herd level. Building knowledge in the field of sensor technology and big data approaches is crucial for the future. The project findings will lead to increased genetic progress in longevity in the crossbred sows. This has the potential to increase international sales of pigs and semen with Norwegian genetics. For farmers, this will mean less culling of sows, and a reduction of replacement gilts, which is one of the largest costs. This will lead to improved economy for Norwegian pork producers, more sustainable food production, and more robust and healthier animals leading to better animal welfare. Less expensive food and improved food quality will benefit society.

Project leader: Maja Winther Iversen

Started: 2019

Ends: 2022

Category: Næringsliv

Sector: Næringsliv

Budget: 4305820

Institution: NORSVIN R&D AS

Address: Hamar