Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2003


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2004. 82:41–53. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Litter (n = 8,424) and female performance records were collected in two breed-to-wean production units in order to evaluate genetic line differences for sow longevity and maternal performance over four parities. Lines evaluated were American Diamond Genetics, Danbred North America, Dekalb-Monsanto DK44, Dekalb-Monsanto GPK347, Newsham Hybrids, and National Swine Registry. Females within a line were derived from a minimum of 65 sires, 197 dams (three dams per sire), and a maximum of three daughters per dam, except in the GPK347, which were produced using semen from 12 Nebraska Index boars mated with Dekalb-Monsanto Line 34 females. All lines expressed 100% maternal heterosis. Mixed model statistical procedures were used with fixed effects including genetic line, parity, production unit, and two-way interactions. Random effects included a contemporary week of production and female for repeated records. Lactation length (average 15 d) was included as a linear covariate where appropriate. In total, 3,599 females entered as early-weaned pigs, 3,283 entered the breeding herd, 2,592 farrowed at least a single litter, and 1,656 and completed four parities. Line (P < 0.001) and parity (P < 0.001) effects were observed for virtually all traits measured. Ranges of genetic line differences averaged across parities were 1.76 pigs for total born, 1.45 pigs born alive, and 0.31 stillborn pigs per litter. Ranges of line differences in total and live litter weight were 1.4 and 1.3 kg, respectively. Ranges among lines, within Parities 1 through 4, for litter size at weaning were 0.56, 1.08, 0.91, and 0.64 pigs per litter, respectively. Line differences for weight (33.8 kg) and backfat depth (6.4 mm) at farrowing, lactation feed intake (8.7 kg), weight loss (5.0 kg), and backfat loss (0.87 mm) were observed. Extended wean-to-estrus interval was related to variation in weight, feed intake, and backfat loss in all lines except the GPK347. The GPK347 females farrowed and weaned the largest number of pigs, ate less feed in lactation, and lost more backfat and weight during lactation, yet they had the largest litters and the shortest wean-to-estrus intervals. Line × parity interactions existed for many traits due to small rank changes, but in general, the high- and low-ranked lines did not change. Genetic line differences in reproductive efficiency through four parities exist and must be recognized when choosing a female line.