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Health and Environment

The goal of the research programme on health and environment is to provide solutions for the efficient genetic selection of pigs with an enhanced ability to keep up production despite a variety of challenges. In other words, robust pigs that perform without production dips in weight gain, feed conversion rate or number of pigs produced over time.

Animal welfare issues, such as tail biting and aggression, are also well covered in this research.

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Better pig welfare by innovative breeding

Breeding for more robust pigs with sound feet and legs can be achieved through breeding for better conformation, locomotion, and a reduction in lameness related to the condition osteochondrosis. Topigs Norsvins’ research found that selection for improved structural soundness is best executed as part of a balanced breeding goal. The longevity of the sow can be increased so that the sow can stay in production longer without reducing her welfare.

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Social and fast growing pigs

A pig’s social behaviour is partly genetic and so good behaviour can be selected for. This is one of the conclusions of a large-scale research project in the Netherlands that Topigs Norsvin was a partner in. The goal of the project was to investigate the opportunities to improve social interactions among pigs by incorporating these indirect genetic effects into the breeding programme and to explore the implications of this selection method.

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Scientific publications

2015C.A. de Hollander, E.F. Knol, H.C.M. Heuven, E.M. van GrevenhofInterval from last insemination to culling: II. Culling reasons from practise and the correlation with longevityLivestock Science
2015E.M. van Grevenhof, E.F. Knol, H.C.M. HeuvenInterval from last insemination to culling: I. The genetic background in crossbred sowsLivestock Science
2015J. M. Herrero-Medrano, P. K. Mathur, J. ten Napel, H. Rashidi, P. Alexandri, E. F. Knol and H. A. MulderEstimation of genetic parameters and breeding values across challenged environments to select for robust pigsJournal of Animal Science
2015E. Sell-Kubiak, S. Wang, E. F. Knol and H. A. MulderGenetic analysis of within-litter variation in piglets’ birth weight using genomic or pedigree relationship matricesJournal of Animal Science
2015Herman A. Mulder, William G. Hill and Egbert F. KnolHeritable Environmental Variance Causes Nonlinear Relationships Between Traits: Application to Birth Weight and Stillbirth of PigsGenetics
2015E. Sell-Kubiak, P. Bijma, E. F. Knol and H. A. MulderComparison of methods to study uniformity of traits: Application to birth weight in pigsJournal of Animal Science
2015Aasmundstad, T., Andersen-Ranberg, I., Nordbø, Ø., Meuwissen, T., Vangen, O. and Grindflek, E.The effect of including genomic relationships in the estimation of genetic parameters of functional traits in pigsJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
2016Nordbø, Ø., Gjuvsland, A. B., Nermoen, A., Land, S., Niederer, S., Lamata, P., ... & Vik, J. O.Towards causally cohesive genotype–phenotype modelling for characterization of the soft-tissue mechanics of the heart in normal and pathological geometriesJournal of The Royal Society Interface
2015Duijvesteijn, N.GWAS for Direct and Indirect Effect on Androstenone.PAG XXIII, San Diego
2015Mulder, H.A.; Herrero-Medrano, J.; Sell-Kubiak, E.B.; Mathur, P.K.; Knol, E.F.Statistical models to increase disease resilience and uniformity in animal production66th EAAP, Warsaw
2015EB Sell-Kubiak, MS Lopes, N Duijvesteijn, EF Knol, P Bijma, HA MulderNew genomic regions associated with litter size and its variation in pigs66th EAAP, Warsaw
2015Duijvesteijn, N. and E.F. KnolTail biting; what we do and do not know from a genetics perspective66th EAAP, Warsaw
2015Aasmundstad, T., E. Grindflek and O. VangenThe role of welfare-related traits in a breeding goal selecting for production efficiency in pigs66th EAAP, Warsaw
2014H Rashidi, HA Mulder, P Mathur, JAM van Arendonk, EF KnolVariation among sows in response to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndromeJAS
2014ED Ellen, TB Rodenburg, GAA Albers, JE Bolhuis, I Camerlink, et alThe prospects of selection for social genetic effects to improve welfare and productivity in livestockFrontier in genetics
2014PK Mathur, JM Herrero-Medrano, P Alexandri, EF Knol, J ten Napel,et alEstimating challenge load due to disease outbreaks and other challenges using reproduction records of sowsJAS
2014WW Ursinus, HJ Wijnen, AC Bartels, N Dijvesteijn, CG van Reenen, et alDamaging biting behaviors in intensively kept rearing gilts: The effect of jute sacks and relations with production characteristicsJAS
2014I Camerlink, N Duijvesteijn, WW Ursinus, JE Bolhuis, P BijmaConsequences of Selection for Indirect Genetic Effect for Growth in Pigs on Behavior and ProductionWCGALP
2014C. Sevillano, M. S. Lopes, B. Harlizius, J.W.M. Bastiaansen.A genome-wide scan reveals novel loci associated with liability to scrotal and inguinal hernia in Large White pigsWCGALP
2014Olstad K, Kongsro J, Grindflek E, Dolvik NIConsequences of the natural course of articular osteochondrosis in pigs for the suitability of computed tomography as a screening toolBMC Veterinary Research
2014Aasmundstad T, Gjerlaug-Enger E, Grindflek E, Vangen OGenetic trends of conformation traits and genetic correlations to osteochondrosis in boarsAnimal
2014Olstad K, Kongsro J, Grindflek E, Dolvik NIOssification defects detected in CT scans represent early osteochondrosis in the distal femur of pigletsJournal of Orthopaedic Research
2014Aasmundstad T, Olsen D, Sehested E, Vangen O.The genetic relationships between conformation assessment of gilts and sow production and longevityLivestock Science
2014Er C, Lium B, Tavornpanich S, Hofmo P, Forberg H, Hauge A, Grøntvedt C, Framstad T, Brun E.Adverse effects of Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection on growth performance of Norwegian pigs – a longitudinal study at a boar testing stationBMC Veterinary Research