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Keywords:

  • Endangered pig breed;
  • fertility;
  • inbreeding;
  • optimal genetic contributions

Summary

A pedigree including 1538 individuals of the endangered pig breed ‘Bunte Bentheimer’ and 3008 records of the fertility traits ‘number of piglets born alive’ (NBA) and ‘number of piglets weaned’ (NW) were used to i) characterize the population structure, ii) to estimate genetic (co)variance components and estimated breeding values (EBVs) and iii) to use EBVs for the application of the concept of optimal genetic contributions. The average coefficient of inbreeding increased from F = 0.103 to = 0.121 within the two recent cohorts. Average rate of inbreeding amounted to 1.66%, which resulted in an effective population size of Ne = 30 animals in the recent cohort. Average generation interval was 3.07 years considering the whole pedigree, and in total, only 612 sows and boars generated offspring. Estimated heritabilities for both traits NBA and NW were 0.12, and the estimated genetic correlation between both traits was 0.96. The variance component due to the service sire was higher than in commercial pig breeds, presumably due to the widespread use of natural service boars. The EBVs for NBA from 333 selection candidates (63 boars and 270 sows) were used to determine optimal genetic contributions. Based on selected animals and their optimal genetic contributions, specific mating designs were evaluated to minimize inbreeding in the next generation. Best results were achieved when using a simulated annealing algorithm and allowing artificial insemination.