Piglet survival is based on a complex interaction between the piglets own genetic component (direct genetic effects), the dams genetic contribution (maternal genetic effects) and environmental effects (systematic environmental such as year-season, common litter and individual environmental effects). Disentanglement of direct and maternal genetic effects needs a powerful design of genetic relationships. In order to accomplish this, a two generation selection experiment was designed with different selection groups for direct and maternal effects and cross-classification of these selection groups. Survival at birth and survival during the nursing period may have genetically independent components and would then be treated as different traits. In addition, piglet survival traits are reported to have low direct and maternal heritabilities and traits genetically associated with survival, such as birth weight, may result in a more efficient change in survival than using survival per se. Therefore, the objective of the research was to estimate the genetic parameters of direct and maternal genetic effects of survival and birth weight in order to enhance the selection strategies for piglet survival.
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