Repeatabilities and Heritabilities of Behavior Traits and Their Relationship With Performance

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Title: Repeatabilities and Heritabilities of Behavior Traits and Their Relationship With Performance
Author: Velie, Brandon D
Advisors: Joe P. Cassady, Committee Chair
Todd T. See, Committee Member
Abstract: The object of this study was to estimate repeatabilities and heritabilities of indirect measures of pig behavior. Relationships of measures of behavior with production traits were estimated. Traits chosen were backtest, resident-intruder, human approach (HAT), novel object (NOT), birth weight (BW), backfat depth (BF), loin muscle area (LMA), average daily gain in the farrowing house (ADGFH), average daily gain (ADG), 21 d weight (21DW), and 140 d weight (W). Each behavior trait was measured twice (n ≥ 457). The study consisted of 95 litters from 31 sires with an average of 3 sires per litter. Between 7 and 14 d of age the backtest was conducted by placing each pig in the supine position for 60 s. Total time spent struggling (TTS) and total number of attempts to struggle (TAS) were recorded. The resident-intruder test was performed in the nursery while the human approach (HAT) and novel object tests (NOT) were performed on the finishing floor. The resident intruder test involved two pigs; a resident pig and an intruder pig from another litter. The resident pen was divided in half with a solid door. One pig, a resident, was placed in the test area and an intruder pig was then introduced. Time taken until an attack occurred (LAT) and total number of attacks over the two tests (RIS) were recorded. Amount of time taken for each pig to make snout contact with an unfamiliar human (HAT) or object (NOT) was recorded. Dam and sire effects were significant for all traits (p < 0.01). Sex and pen effects were significant for LAT, RIS, HAT, and NOT (p < 0.10). Repeatabilities of TTS, TAS, RIS, LAT, HAT, and NOT were 0.38, 0.21, 0.07, 0.08, 0.17, 0.11, respectively. The phenotypic correlation between TTS and TAS was 0.61 and the phenotypic correlation between HAT and NOT was 0.34. The phenotypic relationship between RIS and LAT was -0.85. Total time spent struggling and TAS tended to be phenotypically correlated with 21DW and ADGFH. TAS was phenotypically correlated with BF (0.15). Latency until an attack occurred was phenotypically correlated with LMA (0.23). RIS was phenotypically correlated with ADG (-0.13), W (-0.13), and LMA (-0.21). Heritabilities of TTS and TAS were 0.31 and 0.53, respectively. Genetic correlation of TAS with both ADG and W was 0.38. Genetic correlations of TTS with BF, W, and TAS were 0.14, 0.18, and 0.81, respectively. It was concluded that the backtest is a heritable and repeatable measure of a behavioral characteristic in pigs that is both phenotypically and genetically correlated with performance.
Date: 2007-07-26
Degree: MS
Discipline: Animal Science

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