Sociable pigs can now be bred thanks to a method developed jointly by the Institute for Pig Genetics (IPG) and the Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre of Wageningen University. Researchers have developed a mathematical model that allows the social behaviour between pigs in a pen to be included in selection decisions.
Up until now, pigs were bred solely on the basis of individual performance. The results show that social interactions between pigs are inherited and can make a significant contribution to the performance of pigs in a pen.
TOPIGS will be the first company to include this new selection method in its breeding programme. For pig breeding organisations such as TOPIGS, the method offers new opportunities for a balanced improvement of pig genetics. This new method considers not just a pig's genetic predisposition for its own performance but also its ability, or otherwise, to live as a sociable individual with others in one pen.
Consequently both the welfare and performance of pigs will be improved.
The method was published in March in the leading scientific journal Genetics.
The Institute for Pig Genetics (IPG) is located in Beuningen. IPG is a leading knowledge and information centre for breeding and artificial insemination programmes for pigs and other animal species.
The Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre of Wageningen University focuses on identifying the biological role of genetic factors on the functioning of farm animals and the development of selection methods.