Preserving Genetic Diversity in Swine
There are more than 70 breeds of pigs worldwide, but only seven are used in most large pork-producing operations. Though benefits of biodiversity are often overlooked, there are farmers and organizations interested in preserving rare and endangered breeds for future generations.
A constraint faced by many is the lack of pedigree data available for these rare breeds, which makes it difficult to plan matings to avoid inbreeding.
Kizzi Roberts, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, wanted to determine the relationships within rare breeds that lacked pedigree information. She obtained samples from three rare breeds of swine (Guinea, Red Wattle, and Ossabaw Island) and compared the alleles within the rare breeds.
Her preliminary research indicates that within the tested breeds, there was often a high level of relatedness, implying high inbreeding. This information could be helpful for producers who might be under the assumption that certain animals are unrelated, when, in fact, they are closely related.
Accurate swine relationship data will help producers plan swine mating to maintain genetic diversity. Greater genetic variation will allow rare breeds to remain viable for future generations, which will give farmers opportunities for niche marketing.
View a presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) GNC10-145, A Survey of Relationships Among Rare Breeds of Pigs .
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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.