Genetic gain and economic values of selection strategies including semen traits in three- and four-way crossbreeding systems for swine production

D. González-Peña, R. V. Knox, M. D. Macneil, S. L. Rodriguez-Zas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four semen traits: volume (VOL), concentration (CON), progressive motility of spermatozoa (MOT), and abnormal spermatozoa (ABN) provide complementary information on boar fertility. Assessment of the impact of selection for semen traits is hindered by limited information on economic parameters. Objectives of this study were to estimate economic values for semen traits and to evaluate the genetic gain when these traits are incorporated into traditional selection strategies in a 3-tier system of swine production. Three-way (maternal nucleus lines A and B and paternal nucleus line C) and 4-way (additional paternal nucleus line D) crossbreeding schemes were compared. A novel population structure that accommodated selection for semen traits was developed. Three selection strategies were simulated. Selection Strategy I (baseline) encompassed selection for maternal traits: number of pigs born alive (NBA), litter birth weight (LBW), adjusted 21-d litter weight (A21), and number of pigs at 21 d (N21); and paternal traits: number of days to 113.5 kg (D113), backfat (BF), ADG, feed efficiency (FE), and carcass lean % (LEAN). Selection Strategy II included Strategy I and the number of usable semen doses per collection (DOSES), a function of the 4 semen traits. Selection Strategy III included Strategy I and the 4 semen traits individually. The estimated economic values of VOL, CON, MOT, ABN, and DOSES for 7 to 1 collections/wk ranged from $0.21 to $1.44/mL, $0.12 to $0.83/103 spermatozoa/mm3, $0.61 to $12.66/%, −$0.53 to −$10.88/%, and $2.01 to $41.43/%, respectively. The decrease in the relative economic values of semen traits and DOSES with higher number of collections per wk was sharper between 1 and 2.33 collections/ wk than between 2.33 and 7 collections/wk. The higher economic value of MOT and ABN relative to VOL and CON could be linked to the genetic variances and covariances of these traits. Average genetic gains for the maternal traits were comparable across strategies. Genetic gains for paternal traits, excluding semen traits, were greater in selection Strategy I than Strategies III and II. Genetic gains for paternal and maternal traits were greater in the 4- and 3-way schemes, respectively. The selection strategy including the 4 semen traits is recommended because this approach enables genetic gains for these traits without compromising the genetic gains for maternal traits and with minimal losses in genetic gains for paternal traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-891
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 31 2015


  • Crossbreeding systems
  • Economic value
  • Semen traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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