|Title||Genetic variation for farrowing rate in pigs in response to change in photoperiod and ambient temperature|
|Author(s)||Sevillano del Aguila, Claudia; Mulder, H.A.; Rashidi, H.; Mathur, P.K.; Knol, E.F.|
|Source||Journal of Animal Science 94 (2016)8. - ISSN 0021-8812 - p. 3185 - 3197.|
Animal Breeding and Genetics
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
|Keyword(s)||Ambient temperature - Farrowing rate - Photoperiod - Pig - Reaction norm - Seasonal infertility|
Seasonal infertility is often observed as anestrus and a lower conception rate resulting in a reduced farrowing rate (FR) during late summer and early autumn. This is often regarded as an effect of heat stress; however, we observed a reduction in the FR of sows even after correcting for ambient temperature in our data. Therefore, we added change in photoperiod in the analysis of FR considering its effect on sow fertility. Change in photoperiod was modeled using the cosine of the day of first insemination within a year. On an average, the FR decreased by 2% during early autumn with decreasing daily photoperiod compared with early summer with almost no change in daily photoperiod. It declined 0.2% per degree Celsius of ambient temperature above 19.2°C. This result is a step forward in disentangling the 2 environmental components responsible for seasonal infertility. Our next aim was to estimate the magnitude of genetic variation in FR in response to change in photoperiod and ambient temperature to explore opportunities for selecting pigs to have a constant FR throughout the year. We used reaction norm models to estimate additive genetic variation in response to change in photoperiod and ambient temperature. The results revealed a larger genetic variation at stressful environments when daily photoperiod decreased and ambient temperatures increased above 19.2°C compared with neutral environments. Genetic correlations between stressful environments and non-stressful environments ranged from 0.90 (±0.03) to 0.46 (±0.13) depending on the severity of the stress, indicating changes in expression of FR depending on the environment. The genetic correlation between responses of pigs to changes in photoperiod and to those in ambient temperature were positive, indicating that pigs tolerant to decreasing daily photoperiod are also tolerant to high ambient temperatures. Therefore, selection for tolerance to decreasing daily photoperiod should also increase tolerance to high ambient temperatures or vice versa.