Animal Science Department


Responses to 19 generations of litter size selection in the Nebraska Index line. I. Reproductive responses estimated in pure line and crossbred litters

D. B. Petry, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
R. K. Johnson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Document Type Article

Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2004. 82:1000–1006. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Our objective was to estimate responses in reproductive traits in the Nebraska Index line (I) after 19 generations of selection for increased litter size. Responses were estimated in dams producing pure line, F1, and three-way cross litters. A total of 850 litters were produced over six year-seasons, including 224 pure line litters, 393 F1 litters produced from I and C females mated with DanbredNALandrace (L) or Duroc- Hampshire (T) boars, and 233 litters by F1 L x I and L x C females mated with T boars. Contrasts of means were used to estimate the genetic difference between I and C and interactions of line differences with mating type. Farrowing rates of lines I (û = 91.0%) and C (û = 92.8%) did not differ. Averaged across all genetic groups, mean number born alive per litter was 10.1 pigs, and number and weight of pigs weaned per litter, both adjusted for number nursed and weaning age of 12 d, were 9.7 pigs and 34.4 kg, respectively. Averaged across mating types, direct genetic effects of I were greater than C (P < 0.05) for total born (3.53 pigs), number born alive (2.53 pigs), number of mummified pigs (0.22 pig), and litter birth weight (2.14 kg). The direct genetic effect of line I was less than C (P < 0.05) for litter weaning weight (-1.88 kg). Interactions of line effects with crossing system were significant (P < 0.05) for total number born, number of stillborn pigs, number weaned, and litter weaning weight. In pure line litters, I exceeded C by 4.18 total pigs and 1.76 stillborn pigs per litter, whereas the estimate of I–C in F1 litters was 2.74 total pigs and 0.78 stillborn pig per litter. The contrast between I and C for number weaned and litter weaning weight in pure litters was 0.32 pig and -0.28 kg, respectively, compared with 0.25 pig and -2.14 kg in F1 litters. Crossbreeding is an effective way to use the enhanced reproductive efficiency of the Index line.