Animal Science, Department of


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Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2006. 84:2590–2595. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Data from the National Pork Producers Council Maternal Line National Genetic Evaluation Program were used to compare longevity of sows from 6 commercial genetic lines and to estimate the phenotypic associations of sow longevity with gilt backfat thickness, ADG, age at first farrowing, litter size at first farrowing, litter weight at first farrowing, average feed intake during lactation, and average backfat loss during lactation. The lines evaluated were American Diamond Genetics, Danbred North America, Dekalb-Monsanto DK44, Dekalb-Monsanto GPK347, Newsham Hybrids, and National Swine Registry. The data set contained information from 3,251 gilts, of which 17% had censored longevity records (sows lived longer than 6 parities). The line comparison was carried out by analyzing all lines simultaneously. Because the survival distribution functions differed among genetic lines, later analyses were carried out separately for each genetic line. All analyses were based on the nonparametric proportional hazard (Cox model). Dekalb- Monsanto GPK347 sows had a lower risk of being culled than sows from the other lines. Moreover, the shape of the survival distribution function of the Delkab-Monsanto GPK347 line was different from the other 5 lines. The Dekalb-Monsanto 347 line had lower culling rates because they had lower gilt reproductive failure before the first parity than gilts from the other lines. Within line, sows with lower feed intake and greater backfat loss during lactation had a shorter productive lifetime. Thus, producers should implement management practices having positive effects on sow lactation feed intake. Additionally, the swine genetics industry is challenged to simultaneously improve efficiency of gain of their terminal market pigs and to obtain high feed intake during lactation of their maternal lines for future improvement of sow longevity. Recording sow feed intake and backfat loss during lactation in nucleus and multiplication breeding herds should be considered. Between- line differences in this study indicate that it is possible to select for sow longevity, but more research is needed to determine the most efficient selection methods to improve sow longevity.