Food is a major cost of pig production. In the past, direct selection for improvement of feed efficiency has not always been effective (Kennedy, 1984). On the other hand, selection for growth rate and against backfat has improved feed conversion (Sather and Freeden, 1978). If the pigs are fed ad libitum, selection for lean growth rate does not appear to decrease appetite but leads to a favourable increase in feed intake (Ollivier, 1986 ; Mrode and Kennedy, 1993). The Canadian Swine Improvement Program provides estimated breeding values (EBV) for feed conversion ratio (FCR) defined as kg of feed per kg of gain. The FCR EBVs are based on EBVs for age at 100 kg and backfat thickness, and their genetic correlations with FCR. FCR is then used as an explicit objective in selection indices for sire lines and dam lines. From FCR evaluations, it is estimated that cumulative genetic improvement for FCR has been 0.35 kg feed per kg of gain from 1980 to 2000, or 28 kg feed per hog over an 80 kg finishing period (25 kg to 105 kg). About 37 % of the gains have occurred in the last 5 years. Assuming an average feed cost of $200 per tonne, this improvement represents a saving of $5.60 per hog, a relatively high percentage of the current profit margin.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 10, , 10.27, 2002
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