Skip to main content Accessibility help

Integrating economic parameters into genetic selection for Large White pigs

  • Bekezela Dube (a1), Sendros D. Mulugeta (a1) and Kennedy Dzama (a2)


The objective of the study was to integrate economic parameters into genetic selection for sow productivity, growth performance and carcass characteristics in South African Large White pigs. Simulation models for sow productivity and terminal production systems were performed based on a hypothetical 100-sow herd, to derive economic values for the economically relevant traits. The traits included in the study were number born alive (NBA), 21-day litter size (D21LS), 21-day litter weight (D21LWT), average daily gain (ADG), feed conversion ratio (FCR), age at slaughter (AGES), dressing percentage (DRESS), lean content (LEAN) and backfat thickness (BFAT). Growth of a pig was described by the Gompertz growth function, while feed intake was derived from the nutrient requirements of pigs at the respective ages. Partial budgeting and partial differentiation of the profit function were used to derive economic values, which were defined as the change in profit per unit genetic change in a given trait. The respective economic values (ZAR) were: 61.26, 38.02, 210.15, 33.34, −21.81, −68.18, 5.78, 4.69 and −1.48. These economic values indicated the direction and emphases of selection, and were sensitive to changes in feed prices and marketing prices for carcasses and maiden gilts. Economic values for NBA, D21LS, DRESS and LEAN decreased with increasing feed prices, suggesting a point where genetic improvement would be a loss, if feed prices continued to increase. The economic values for DRESS and LEAN increased as the marketing prices for carcasses increased, while the economic value for BFAT was not sensitive to changes in all prices. Reductions in economic values can be counterbalanced by simultaneous increases in marketing prices of carcasses and maiden gilts. Economic values facilitate genetic improvement by translating it to proportionate profitability. Breeders should, however, continually recalculate economic values to place the most appropriate emphases on the respective traits during genetic selection.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agricultural Research Council 1981. The nutrient requirements of pigs. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Farnham Royal, UK.
Amer, PR, Fox, GC 1992. Estimation of economic weights in genetic improvement using neoclassical production theory: an alternative to rescaling. Animal Production 54, 341350.
Bett, RC, Kosgey, IS, Bebe, BO, Kahi, AK 2007. Breeding goals for the Kenya dual purpose goat I. Model development and application to smallholder systems. Tropical Animal Health and Production 39, 467475.
Bourdon, RM 1998. Shortcomings of current genetic evaluation systems. Journal of Animal Science 76, 23082323.
Brascamp, EW, Smith, C, Guy, DR 1985. Derivation of economic weights from profit equation. Animal Production 40, 175180.
Charfeddine, N 2010. Economic aspects of defining breeding objectives in selection programmes. CIHEAM-Options Mediterraneennes 9-17. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from
Houska, L, Wolfova, M, Fiedler, L 2004. Economic weights for production and reproduction traits of pigs in the Czech Republic. Livestock Production Science 85, 209221.
Hovenier, R, Brascamp, EW, Kanis, E, van der Werf, JH, Wassenberg, AP 1993. Economic values of optimum traits: the example of meat quality in pigs. Journal of Animal Science 71, 14291433.
James, JW 1982. Construction, uses, and problems of multitrait selection indices. Proceedings of the Second World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Madrid, Spain 5, pp. 130–139.
Kosgey, IS, Arendonk, JAM, Baker, RL 2003. Economic values for traits of meat sheep in medium to high production potential areas of the tropics. Small Ruminant Research 50, 187202.
MacNeil, MD, Nugent, RA, Snelling, WM 1997. Breeding for profit: an introduction to selection index concepts. Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XV December 9, 10 and 11, 1997, Rapid City, South Dakota.
McManus, M 2007. How much protein is needed to build muscle? Retrieved August 14, 2010, from
Millward, DJ, Nnanyelugo, DO, Garlick, PJ 1974. Developmental changes in muscle protein metabolism in congenitally malnourished rats. Proceedings of Nutrient Society 33, 55–63.
Olesen, I, Groen, AF, Gjerde, B 2000. Definition of animal breeding goals for sustainable production systems. Journal of Animal Science 78, 570582.
Ponzoni, RW 1988. The derivation of economic values combining income and expense in a different way: an example with Australian Merino sheep. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 105, 143152.
Ponzoni, RW 1992. Which trait for genetic improvement of beef cattle reproduction: calving ease or calving day? Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 109, 119128.
See, T, Zering, K, Robison, OW 1995. Economic Value of Pork Quality Traits. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from
Smith, C 1988. Genetic improvement of livestock using nucleus breeding units. World Animal Review 65, 210.
Smith, C, James, JW, Brascamp, EW 1986. On the derivation of economic weights in livestock improvement. Animal Production 43, 545551.
South African Meat Industry 2007. Classification of Red Meat: a key to more effective marketing. Red meat classification chart, 4th edition. Meat Classification Regulations No. R.863 in Government Gazzette of the Republic of South Africa, Pretoria.
South African Pork Producers Organization 2008. Research and Development Plan for the Pork Industry in South Africa. RMRD Planning Committee (R & D) Pork. 2nd Version June 2008. Pretoria, South Africa.
Von Rohr, P, Hofer, A, Kunzi, N 1999. Economic values for meat quality traits in pigs. Journal of Animal Science 77, 26332640.
Wellock, IJ, Emmans, GC, Kyriazakis, I 2004. Describing and predicting potential growth in the pig. Animal Science 78, 379388.
Whittemore, CT 1993. The science and practice of pig production. Longman Group UK, Essex, England.
Whittemore, CT, Green, DM, Knap, PW 2001. Technical review of the energy and protein requirements of growing pigs: energy. Animal Science 73, 199215.
Whittemore, CT, Kerr, JC, Cameron, ND 1995. An approach to prediction of feed intake in growing pigs using simple body measurements. Agricultural Systems 47, 235244.
Wolfova, M, Wolf, J, Kvapilik, J, Kica, J 2007. Selection for profit in cattle: I. Economic weights for purebred dairy cattle in the Czech Republic. Journal of Dairy Science 90, 24422455.
Young, M 2003. Nutrition and management of the modern gilt. Retrieved December 21, 2010, from


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Dube Supplementary Material
Dube Supplementary Material

 Word (76 KB)
76 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed