Shoulder lesions and body condition of sows at weaning have both environmental and genetic causes. The traits can be scored at farm level, and following recording, the traits can be included in the breeding goal and directional selection can be applied. However, to further increase the genetic progress of these traits, it is advantageous to develop indicator traits on the selection candidates (test boars or gilts, not yet exhibiting the phenotype themselves). It has previously been suggested that the scapula morphology and the spine of scapula might be a key factor for the sow to develop shoulder lesions. In this study, we developed 11 novel traits describing the morphology of the shoulder blade based on computed tomography images from scanned test boars. These traits include the area, length, width, height, and volume of the shoulder blade as well as 6 traits obtained from principal component analysis, describing 80% of the variation observed for the scapula spine profile.
The analyzed traits have moderate to high heritability (h2 from 0.29 to 0.78, SE = 0.06), low to medium genetic correlations with shoulder lesions (up to 0.4, SE = 0.1), and body condition scoring at weaning (up to 0.25, SE = 0.1). These novel phenotypes can now be recorded automatically and accurately prior to selection of the AI boars.
If such recordings are included in multivariate genomic selection models, it is expected to improve the genetic progress of shoulder lesions and body condition score by weaning.
Ø Nordbø, L E Gangsei, T Aasmundstad, E Grindflek, J Kongsro; The genetic correlation between scapula shape and shoulder lesions in sows, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 96, Issue 4, 14 April 2018, Pages 1237–1245, https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/sky051