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Our many years of breeding progress contributes to your future pig production

DanBred’s continuous breeding progress results in direct profitability for you as a pig producer. Not only have we seen progress that contributes positively to your bottom line, but our breeding progress also contributes to reducing the climate footprint and making pig production more sustainable through better utilisation of resources.

The developments are a result of comprehensive breeding work, for example, through performance tests of more than 100 000 breeding animals every year, selection of the best breeding candidates, and extensive data collection and analysis. This has created unique world-class pig genetics! But what impact has the breeding work had for the individual pig producer, and what can you expect in the future?

Innovative method: Genomic selection
In 2010, DanBred was the first in the world to implement genomic selection in pigs. The method has been revolutionary and contributed to significant breeding progress for the traits included in the DanBred breeding goal. With genomic selection, we can precisely identify the breeding candidates that have the best genetics for the traits we want to improve.

This technology has contributed to world-class results that benefit you directly! For example, since 2010, we have seen that feed efficiency has improved by 0,25 kg feed per kilogram gain, lean meat percentage has increased by 1,3%, and daily gain has increased by 132 g per day in production herds. And we expect to continue this impressive progress in the future.

Focus on piglet survival
A trait that we focused particularly on for many years is LP5 (number of live piglets on day 5 after farrowing). This has led to huge improvements and resulted in a higher number of live piglets on day 5 and better piglet survival, leading to even more weaned piglets per litter. When managing sows with high litter size, the implementation of the right routines will increase herd productivity.

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Figure 1 Weaned pigs per litter

However, these improvements do not stop us from working to further increase piglet survival. We are very close to a new and better genetic solution for improving piglet survival and expect that this genetic solution will contribute to a more sustainable breeding goal.

Benefits for your bottom line and the climate
Our breeding progress and ongoing work have a positive impact on your bottom line and contribute to reducing the climate footprint and making pig production more sustainable, through better utilisation of resources. As we can see from Figures 2, 3, and 4, finisher traits have improved significantly from 2010 to 2020.

In 2018, a stronger focus on finisher traits resulted in a significant improvement in feed efficiency (Figure 2), lean meat percentage (Figure 3), and daily gain (Figure 4). With the current high price of feed, this has a real, positive effect on bottom line. We can see from these figures that, since 2018, feed efficiency and lean meat percentage have increased even more rapidly than previously. The lean meat percentage has improved by almost 0,5 % in just two years for production herds!

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Figure 2 Progress in feed conversion rate or FCR (30–115 kg) from 2010–2020
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Figure 3 Progress for lean meat percentage (30–115 kg) from 2010–2020
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Figure 4 Progress in daily gain (30–115 kg) from 2010–2020

In each of these figures, the red line indicates breeding progress, calculated as an average of DanBred Duroc, DanBred Landrace, and DanBred Yorkshire. The average breeding progress for 2020 is scaled to the average of the production herds in 2020. The grey line represents the national average results from Danish production herds extracted from SEGES Innovation, note 2015. The production results follow the breeding progress. This means that the breeding progress generated in the nucleus herds also manifests in the production herds.

DanBred’s continuous progress contributes to more economic gain and more sustainable pigs – also in the future. Better feed efficiency means a lower feed consumption in the pig production unit, which reduces the carbon footprint significantly. At the same time, the breeding progress for LP5 allows DanBred sows to produce more piglets than before. So, fewer sows can produce the same number of finisher pigs with less feed than previously.

More robust and sustainable pigs in the future
Looking into the future, DanBred’s research and development department has several promising projects in the pipeline, such as a focus on survival until slaughter and sow longevity. The aim of these projects is to achieve a positive impact on pigs’ robustness and health, as well as on animal welfare. We hope to see real results within the next few years.

Improved feed efficiency and reduced CO2 emission
Another project anticipated to have positive effects on pig production is metabolomic selection. In 2020, the breeding and genetics department at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council, together with Aarhus University and Nordic Seed, started a research project to achieve a deeper understanding of breeding work using metabolomic data. The findings regarding metabolomic selection are expected to contribute to an increase in the breeding progress for feed efficiency for DanBred pigs by 25% over the next 30 years. The preliminary calculations show that this breeding progress will result in a reduction in feed consumption of 0,3 kg feed per kg gain – on top of the effects that the breeding work already contribute. This corresponds to a cost reduction of approximately DKK 40 (more than R90) per pig for you, the farmer, and a yearly reduction in CO2 emissions amounting to 150 000 t CO2 equivalents.

Pig producers can look forward to a future where they will see increased breeding progress for the crucial traits, which will have a positive impact on their own bottom line, the climate, and animal welfare.

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