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Heritability of clinical tail-biting and its relation to performance traits

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kate Breuer, Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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Clinical tail-biters were identified over a 12-month period at a commercial nucleus pig-breeding farm that had a history of tail-biting problems. The breed, gender, and relative size of the tail-biters were recorded. Using pedigree data for all the pigs on the farm at the time of observations, the heritability of the tail-biting behaviour was estimated for purebred Large White (LW) and Landrace (LR) pigs. The incidence of tail-biting was 2.8% for Large White and 3.5% for Landrace (breed effects, P<0.10). Tail-biting was found to be heritable in Landrace (h2=0.05±0.02, P<0.05 as a 0-1 trait, equivalent to h2=0.27 as a continuous trait), but not heritable in Large White pigs (h2=0.00±0.00, as a 0-1 trait). In the Landrace population, tail-biting was unfavourably genetically correlated with leanness [lean tissue growth rate (LTGR; rg=0.27, P<0.05), and back fat (BF) thickness at 90 kg (rg=-0.28, P<0.05)]. It is concluded that past selection for desirable production traits may have resulted in increased predisposition to exhibit tail-biting behaviour. From the correlations and covariance matrix reported, it would be possible to develop a selection index to reduce the predisposition to exhibit tail-biting behaviour through selective breeding. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Breuer K, Sutcliffe MEM, Mercer JT, Rance KA, O'Connell NE, Sneddon IA, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Livestock Production Science

Year: 2005

Volume: 93

Issue: 1

Pages: 87-94

ISSN (print): 0301-6226

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.livprodsci.2004.11.009


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