Animal Production

Research Article

Genetic components of growth and ultrasonic fat depth traits in Meishan and Large White pigs and their reciprocal crosses

C. S. Haleya1, E. d'Agaroa1 and M. Ellisa2

a1 AFRC Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research, Edinburgh Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9PS

a2 Department of Agriculture, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU

Abstract

Genes from the Chinese Meishan pig have the potential to enhance reproductive performance of European pigs. In order to allow prediction of the impact of Meishan genes in a range of alternative improvement programmes all traits of economic importance must be evaluated and genetic crossbreeding effects estimated. Entire male and female pigs of four genotypes, purebred Meishan (MS) and Large White (LW) pigs and both reciprocal Fl crossbred genotypes (MS ♂ × LW ♀ and LW ♂ × MS ♀), were farrowed in Edinburgh and subsequently performance tested at either Edinburgh or Newcastle. In Edinburgh, animals were penned in groups of four and fed ad libitum between pen mean weights of approximately 30 and 80 kg. At the end of test fat depths at the shoulder, last rib and loin were measured ultrasonically. In Newcastle, animals were penned in groups of six and fed ad libitum between pen mean weights of approximately 30 and 70 kg. Genotypic means and genetic crossbreeding effects (additive and heterosis direct effects and additive maternal effects) were estimated using restricted maximum likelihood.

When compared with the LW, the direct additive effect of genes from the MS produced increased growth rate up to the time of weaning, no change in growth rate between weaning and start of test and greatly reduced growth rate during the performance test. The maternal additive effect of genes from the MS was to reduce growth rate up to the time of weaning, with little effect thereafter. There was substantial direct heterosis for growth rate in all periods measured, but heterosis was less in males than in females during the performance test. The combined effect was such that, within sex, the LW and the two crossbred genotypes were of similar ages when they reached 70 and 80 kg, but MS pigs were 38 to 60 days older. The direct additive effect of MS genes was to increase subcutaneous fat levels and there was little evidence for the effects of maternal genes or direct heterosis on these traits. There was a direct additive effect of MS genes reducing food intake and increasing food conversion ratio and there was direct heterosis for increased food intake. There were significant interactions between genotype and sex. Male and female LW pigs had a similar performance but male MS pigs had slower growth rates on the performance test with lower food intakes, food conversion ratios and subcutaneous fat levels than the females.

(Received March 19 1991)

(Accepted August 12 1991)