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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Aggressive behaviour of sows at mixing and maternal behaviour are heritable and genetically correlated traits

Lovendahl P, Damgaard LH, Nielsen BL, Thodberg K, Su GS, Rydhmer L


This study was designed to estimate genetic variation in aggressive behaviour of sows at mixing, and in maternal ability for the same sows. The study included 835 sows observed for number of mild or severe aggressions performed (F_A1, F_A2), or received (F_R1, F_R2) during 30 min after grouping. Maternal ability was recorded as sows' response to vocalisation from their piglets when these were handled. Maternal behaviour was studied in 1076 sows as a body reaction (MBR) to their piglets being handled after farrowing. Genetic covariances were estimated using a multi-trait animal model, assuming traits to be normally distributed. The heritabilities of performed aggression traits were intermediate (h(2) F_A1=0.17, h(2) F_A2=0.24), but lower for received aggression (h(2) F_R1=0.06, h(2) F_R2=0.04), and heritability of maternal behaviour was also low (h(2)=0.08). Although estimates of genetic correlations had large standard errors, they indicate that less aggressive sows were stronger responding mothers (r(g)=-0.3). We conclude that performed aggression in sows is a heritable trait, and selection against aggression is possible without offsetting maternal behaviour. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Published in

Livestock Production Science
2005, Volume: 93, number: 1, pages: 73-85

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Veterinary Science
    Animal and Dairy Science

    Publication identifier


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