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MTT modelled Finnish porcine genetic growth potential.

The model optimizes feeding and the timing of slaughter.


Porcine growth model determines feed intake and growth

MTT has developed a mathematical growth model that takes account of the genetic growth potential of the Finnish pig. The growth model is used in a dynamic programming routine that simultaneously determines the most cost-effective feeding strategy at each growth phase of the animals and their most profitable time of slaughter.

In addition to porcine genetic growth potential, the model takes account of quality-adjusted feed prices, quality-adjusted producer prices for pork meat, piglet prices, and the subsidy rates. The growth model was incorporated into an economic optimization model, since the best feeding strategy in terms of biological growth does not necessarily result in the highest net return for the grower.

Investment in breeding is of national importance

The genetic standard of Finnish pigs is rising by about four breeding index points annually, thanks to the attention given to breeding. The growth model developed by MTT estimates that breeding is increasing the value of the piggery sector to society annually by approximately FIM 100,000,000, i.e. approximately EUR 16.8 million.

Feeding adapted to the genetic growth potential of pigs is both economically and environmentally sound. An animal with a nutrient supply that matches its growth potential will utilize the ingested nutrients effectively and will not generate an environmental load in the form of excessive nitrogen excretion. On the other hand, not even the best feed will be able to get pigs to produce muscle growth beyond their potential.

Analysis of body growth links feed costs to carcass value

The various pig breeds each have different growth potential, and even different breeding lines within the same breed may differ from one another in this respect. The MTT study experimentally determined the growth rate and the chemical composition (proteins, water, fat and ash) of the body growth of the Finnish growing-finishing pig stock. The composition was measured at two life stages, i.e. as a piglet and as a slaughter pig. The growth potential was represented by means of the Gompertz function.

The Gompertz function was fitted to the weekly weighing data specific to each pig. This gave an overall view of the variation between individuals, in addition to the mean of the curve parameters. Knowledge of the variation will assist in predicting the actual growth rate of different individuals, the value of the carcass, and the cost-effectiveness of feeding. In fitting the parameters of the growth curve, the body growth composition of the pigs was also taken into account. With ad libitum feeding, the different components for an individual pig followed their own Gompertz functions, which have a common maturity ratio.

For further information please contact Marja-Liisa Sevón-Aimonen