Danish Pig Genetics takes a unique approach to developing its updated breeding program

The key to a global pig breeding program lies in combining the global pork market trends, customer demands, and international genetic expertise and tools. That is the mindset behind Danish Pig Genetics’ approach to designing their revised breeding program.

In cooperation with the biotechnology company Roslin Technologies Ltd. (www.roslintech.com), the science and technology company AbacusBio (www.abacusbio.com), genetic evaluation business EGENES (www.sruc.ac.uk/info/120275/egenes), and academics of The Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh (www.ed.ac.uk/roslin), Danish Pig Genetics (www.danishgenetics.dk) utilizes market trends and intel, targeted economic analysis, cutting edge genetics and genomics, and breeding schemes optimization simulation software to drive genetic progress in the traits of economic importance in the breeding program.

“The team established that will deliver the updated breeding program is truly world-class and is set to bring the breeding program to a new level that meets the demands of the market” Dr. Mahmoud Shirali, Senior Geneticist in Danish Pig Genetics explains.

Knowing the market
In the creation of the updated breeding goals Danish Pig Genetics considers the gaps, demands and needs of the market. Therefore, a big emphasis has been placed on getting soft and factual data from across the market in order to build a breeding program that meets the markets’ varying demands.

“We constantly perform market analyses via a direct approach to the market. Factual data analyses across the industry ensures that we get the broad picture of all aspects of the market. A clear understanding of the demands and the trends allows us to produce animals of the future through our updated global breeding program,” Lars Dall, CEO of Danish Pig Genetics explains.

“We have a singular focus for our work with our partner Danish Genetics – to significantly increase the efficiency of their pig breeding program by being in forefront of technological innovation. This translates to providing world class genetics and services to the pork producers that Danish Genetics serve. Roslin Technologies, working with a consortium of expert individuals, companies and academics, supports Danish Genetics with the aim of being at the very center of new developments in pig breeding demonstrated by bringing together in a single index the ideal combination of economically important traits to help provide optimum returns for the pork producers.” explains Glen Illing, CEO of Roslin Technologies.

A unique bioeconomic model to translate market trends into breeding decisions
Danish Pig Genetics and AbacusBio have developed a unique bioeconomic model that incorporates genetic principles, economic modelling, and market trends to ensure that the right amount of emphasis goes on the traits within the breeding program.

“This tool produces accurate economic weights for the traits of interest in the breeding program, informed by the outcomes of consultation and underpinned by robust economic analysis” Dr. Tim Byrne Managing Director of AbacusBio’s UK business unit explains.

 Cutting edge genetic and genomic tools for increased accuracy in breeding values and index
Geneticists in EGENES in collaboration with Danish Pig Genetics have developed novel statistical algorithms for translating the large-scale data collected on nucleus and multiplication units in Danish Pig Genetics into estimated breeding values for the traits of interest.

“Scientifically proven statistical algorithms and approaches for estimating breeding values accelerates the Danish Genetics breeding progress due to higher accuracies.” explains Werner Brand Geneticist at EGENES.

“Integrating large amounts of DNA information with the on-farm data collected through Danish Genetics’ breeding activities requires a smart genomic tool. EGENES has developed a new system with funding from CIEl. This tool allows Danish Genetics data to be automatically retrieved, quality assured, preprocessed and turned into genomic breeding values seamlessly” Prof. Mike Coffey Director of EGENES explains. “This provides state of the art genomic breeding values rapidly and regularly for Danish Genetics’ customers to benefit from the extensive recording in Danish Genetics’ breeding program.”

Optimizing breeding program and population for faster genetic progress
Danish Pig Genetics’ breeding scheme and population has been optimized through a new breeding program optimization software tool developed by Roslin Technologies Ltd in collaboration with The Roslin Institute.

“The simulation software tool assists decision making for selection, breeding and genetic improvement activities. For example, the model can predict more precisely how much genetic progress will be made in the Danish Genetics pig population in next 2, 5 or 10 years, considering the merit of different traits in the population under selection as well as acceptable level of inbreeding.”, explained by Roslin Technologies Senior Geneticist Dr. Alfredo Lepori.

“It also helps with decisions on the number and types of records required to achieve rapid improvement of traits of interest in the breeding program, such as piglet survival and feed efficiency, and also enables Danish Genetics to apply genomic selection in a more cost-effective way”, explained by Roslin Institute principal investigator Prof. Andrea Wilson.

“A breeding objective framework, which allows for monitoring and modelling of the implication of changes in market revenue and cost streams provides us with the ability to update the economic weights and genetic trend forecasts. Optimized statistical genetic algorithms for higher accuracy breeding values makes the selection of elite animals more precise. Along with a decision support tool for optimization of the population and breeding program, we ensure the delivery of superior genetics to not only address the market demand but also drive the pork industry to new levels.” Dr. Mahmoud Shirali, Senior Geneticist at Danish Pig Genetics explains.

Danish Pig Genetics will launch their updated breeding program in April 2020.