Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

August 2001


Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2001. 79:2286–2297. Copyright American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Our objectives were to estimate responses and genetic parameters for ovulation rate, number of fully formed pigs at birth, and other production traits following two-stage selection for increased ovulation rate and number of fully formed pigs. Eight generations of selection were practiced in each of two lines. One selection line was derived from a line that previously selected eight generations for an index to increase ovulation rate and embryonic survival (the IOL pigs). The other selection line was derived from the unselected control line of the index selection experiment (the COL pigs). The control line (C) was continued with random selection. Due to previous selection, Line IOL had greater ovulation rate (4.24 ± 0.38 and 4.14 ± 0.29 ova) and litter size (1.97 ± 0.39 and 1.06 ± 0.38 pigs) at Generation 0 of two-stage selection than did Lines COL and C. In Stage 1, all gilts from 50% of the largest litters were retained. Approximately 50% of them were selected for ovulation rate in Stage 2. Gilts selected for ovulation rate were mated to boars selected from the upper one-third of the litters for litter size. At Generations 7 and 8, differences in mean EBV for ovulation rate and litter size between Lines IOL and C were 6.20 ± 0.29 ova and 4.66 ± 0.38 pigs; differences between Lines COL and C were 2.26 ± 0.29 ova and 2.79 ± 0.39 pigs; and differences between Lines IOL and COL were 3.94 ± 0.26 ova and 1.86 ± 0.39 pigs. Regressions of line mean EBV on generation number were 0.27 ± 0.07 ova and 0.35 ± 0.06 pigs in Line IOL; 0.30 ± 0.06 ova and 0.29 ± 0.05 pigs in Line COL; and 0.01 ± 0.07 ova and 0.02 ± 0.05 pigs in Line C. Correlated responses were decreased age at puberty and increased number of pigs born alive, number of mummified pigs, prenatal loss, and individual and litter birth weight. Two-stage selection for ovulation rate and number of pigs per litter is a promising procedure to improve litter size in swine.