Genetic and phenotypic parameters and correlated responses in performance test traits were estimated for populations of Large White (LW) and British Landrace (LR) pigs tested in Edinburgh and Wye respectively, to four generations of divergent selection for lean growth rate (LGA), lean food conversion (LFC) and daily food intake (DFI) with ad-libitum feeding.
There were differences between the two populations in genetic parameters, as LW heritabilities for growth rate, daily food intake and backfat depths were higher and the correlation between growth rate and backfat was positive for LW, but negative for LR. However, heritabilities, genetic and phenotypic correlations were generally comparable between selection groups, within each population. Genetic and phenotypic correlations indicated that animals with high daily food intakes were faster growing, had positive residual food intakes (RFI), were fatter with higher food conversion ratios. RFI was highly correlated with daily food intake and food conversion ratio, but phenotypically independent of growth rate and backfat, as expected.
Selection for LGA, in LW and LR populations, increased growth rate (54 and 101 g/day), but reduced backfat (−3·9 and −2·0 mm), food conversion ratio (−0·23 and −0·25) and total food intake (−11·8 and −12·6 kg). There was no change in daily food intake in LW pigs (−19 g/day), but daily food intake increased in the LR pigs (69 g/day). With selection for LFC in LW and LR populations, there was no response in groivth rate (9 and 9 g/day), but backfat (−4·1 and −2·1 mm), total (−6·6 and −11·8 kg) and daily food intake (−90 and −172 g) were reduced, as animals had lower food conversion ratios (−0·13 and −0·22). LW and LR pigs selected for DFI ate more food in total (6·8 and 5·9 kg) and on a daily basis (314 and 230 g), grew faster (94 and 51 g/day) and had higher food conversion ratios (0·12 and 0·13). Backfat was increased in LW pigs (3·7 mm), but not in the LR population.
In general, efficiency of lean growth was improved by increasing groivth rate, with little change in daily food intake from selection for LGA, but was primarily due to reduced daily food intake with selection on LFC.