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Improving production efficiency in the presence of genotype by environment interactions in pig genomic selection breeding programmes

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We simulated a genomic selection pig breeding schemes containing nucleus and production herds to improve feed efficiency of production pigs that were cross‐breed. Elite nucleus herds had access to high‐quality feed, and production herds were fed low‐quality feed. Feed efficiency in the nucleus herds had a heritability of 0.3 and 0.25 in the production herds. It was assumed the genetic relationships between feed efficiency in the nucleus and production were low (r g = 0.2), medium (r g = 0.5) and high (r g = 0.8). In our alternative breeding schemes, different proportion of production animals were recorded for feed efficiency and genotyped with high‐density panel of genetic markers. Genomic breeding value of the selection candidates for feed efficiency was estimated based on three different approaches. In one approach, genomic breeding value was estimated including nucleus animals in the reference population. In the second approach, the reference population was containing a mixture of nucleus and production animals. In the third approach, the reference population was only consisting of production herds. Using a mixture reference population, we generated 40–115% more genetic gain in the production environment as compared to only using nucleus reference population that were fed high‐quality feed sources when the production animals were offspring of the nucleus animals. When the production animals were grand offspring of the nucleus animals, 43–104% more genetic gain was generated. Similarly, a higher genetic gain generated in the production environment when mixed reference population was used as compared to only using production animals. This was up to 19 and 14% when the production animals were offspring and grand offspring of nucleus animals, respectively. Therefore, in genomic selection pig breeding programmes, feed efficiency traits could be improved by properly designing the reference population.
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Keywords: Breeding scheme; feed efficiency; genomic selection; pig breeding; reference population

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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