Genetic improvement of iberian duroc crossbred production

The aim of the project is to develop the selection of an iberian and a duroc breed for improving the final cross product and the pure nucleus profitability. To reach this objective, new genetic models, using quantitative genetic and marker technology, must be adapted at the selection level.

Nowadays there is a great deal of interest in genetic conservation and the use of autochthonous breeds, instead of pig production based on intensive exploitation of specialised meat and fast growing breeds. In SPAIN, the production of Iberian pig is one example of economic success of traditional breeding. This production is mainly focused on obtaining raw meat in order to manufacture dry-cured products, characterised by their high sensorial quality. Although the development of the high quality cured products market has made an increase in the Iberian pig production possible, from the genetic point of view this population presents several problems. Iberian females have a small prolificacy rate, and there is no genetic progress for reproductive performance because the mothering ability remains unstudied and the establishment of selection programmes for Iberian pigs is limited by the lack of genealogical control in the farms. In general, farmers of Iberian pigs have not applied, or inefficiently applied, the advances in quantitative and molecular genetics for the conceptual and methodological development of animal breeding. Finally, the widespread use of crosses with other breeds has developed the introgression of genes in pure Iberian sows. Therefore, the application of molecular biology techniques is necessary for differentiation of pure animals used in the genetic improvement of Iberian pigs. Further, a terminal cross between pure Iberian females and Duroc boars is allowed for the production of typical Iberian meat products. In this sense, it is necessary to evaluate the influence of Duroc in Iberian pig crossing, with special attention paid to traits related to the effective suitability of meat and fat for manufacturing dry-cured products with high sensorial quality. Finally, a specific selection of the Duroc for an Iberian crossing purpose must be proposed. Thus, this project will be developed along two main lines of work. The first one is based on improving genetic selection of Iberian sows by searching and validating genetic markers related to prolificacy and mothering ability and by developing BLUP marker-assisted selection models, while the second one is based on the development of a new terminal line of Duroc specifically for its cross with pure Iberian sows. The research for genetic markers related to prolificacy and mothering ability of the Iberian sow, will be undertaken by studying the segregation of candidate markers such as: ESR alpha and ESR beta (estrogen receptors), VCAM1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1), MTNR1A (melatonin receptor 1A), PRLR (prolactin receptor), BMPR1B (bone morphogenic receptor type 1B), and DHB (dopamine beta hydroxylase), as well as other ones to be defined during the project. As the genetic progress for maternal aptitude in sows could be correlated negatively with carcass quality and growth rate, the study of the heritability of these traits and of genetic correlations between traits in Iberian pig breeds will be carried out in order to optimise global genetic progress. Finally, research will be carried out to optimise the genetic model that will be practically applied to animal breeding. Repeated records of reproductive performance are available for each sow over different parities (i.e. number of alive born piglets per litter or litter weight), and analysis with a repeatability animal model are commonly used for genetic evaluation. Nowadays, other alternatives have been suggested to study parameters such as multivariate animal models or analyses with random regression models. In this project all of these methods will be evaluated to select the one that optimises genetic progress and improves the persistence of target reproductive parameters of Iberian sows. The development of a terminal line of Duroc specifically for its cross with Iberian sows will be undertaken: 1) by studying genetic parameters (heritability, genetic variances and correlations) for growth and carcass composition traits in a newly created strain of Duroc pigs; 2) by evaluating different molecular markers that may impact fresh and dry-cured processing characteristics; and 3) by studying the heredity of morphological traits such as foreleg and rear leg thickness and colour, paying particular attention to the heredity of hoof colours at mendelian and molecular level. The main objective is to obtain a male terminal line that supplies the phenotypic and meat quality characteristics desired for pure and mostly crossed progeny (finishing pigs). These characteristics are focused on the market needs for dry-cured products of high sensorial quality. As for the Iberian breed, final work will be focused on the development of a best animal model for BLUP evaluation of the targeted Duroc breed.
Project ID: 
4 432
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 270 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Animal Selection/Production / Husbandry technology
Market Area: 
Animal Husbandry

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