- Volume 25 Issue 2
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Estimation of Weaning Age Effects on Growth Performance in Berkshire Pigs
- Do, C.H. (Department of Animal Biosystem Science, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Chungnam National University)
- Received : 2011.03.25
- Accepted : 2011.08.19
- Published : 2012.02.01
Analysis for back fat thickness (BFAT) and daily body weight gains from birth to the end of a performance test were conducted to find an optimal method for estimation of weaning age effects and to ascertain impacts of weaning age on the growth performance of purebred Berkshire pigs from a closed population in Korea. Individual body weights were measured at birth (B), at weaning (W: mean, 22.9 d), at the beginning of the performance test (P: mean, 72.7 d), and at the end of the performance test (T: mean, 152.4 d). Further, the average daily gains in body weight (ADG) of 3,713 pigs were analyzed for the following periods: B to W (DGBW), W to P (DGWP), P to T (DGPT), B to P (DGBP), B to T (DGBT), and W to T (DGWT). Weaning ages ranged from 17 to 34 d, and were treated as fixed (WF), random with (WC) and random without (WU) consideration of an empirical relationship between weaning ages in the models. WF and WC produced the lowest AIC (Akaike Information Criterion) and least fractions of error variance components in multi-traits analysis, respectively. The fractions of variances due to diverse weaning age and the weaning age correlations among ADGs of different stages (when no overlapping allowed) by WC ranged from 0.09 to 0.35 and from -0.03 to 0.44, respectively. The maximum weaning age effects and optimal back fat thicknesses were attained at weaning ages of 27 to 32 d. With the exception of DGBW, the effects of weaning age on the ADGs increased (ranging from 1.50 g/d to 7.14 g/d) with increased weaning age. In addition, BFAT was reduced by 0.106 mm per increased day in weaning age. In conclusion, WC produced reasonable weaning age correlations, and improved the fitness of the model. Weaning age was one of crucial factors (comparable with heritability) influencing growth performance in Berkshire pigs. Further, these studies suggest that increasing weaning age up to 32 d can be an effective management strategy to improve growth performance. However, additional investigations of the costs and losses related to extension of the suckling period and on the extended range of weaning age are necessary to determine the productivity and safety of this practice in a commercial herd and production system.
Supported by : Chungnam National University
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