The effect of sire line breed on the lifetime performance of slaughter generation pigs, February 2009

Date published: 01 February 2009

Using a total of 192 Landrace/Large White F1 dams, genetics from four terminal sire lines representing three different breeds were evaluated at AFBI, Hillsborough during 2007. Sire lines were representative of genetics being used on Northern Ireland pig herds and included Tempo, Pietrain (Austrian line), Pietrain (Belgium line) and Landrace. The performance of all piglets were assessed between birth and weaning.


Pietrain Austrian litters were numerically larger with one extra pig per litter (14.1 piglets born per litter vs 12.9) but on average Pietrain Austrian piglets were lighter at birth (1.39 kg vs 1.53 kg) and had a higher mortality rate (26.8% vs 16.2%) than pigs from the other sire line breeds. Overall, the average daily gain of piglets was similar for each sire line breed as was the number of piglets weaned and the total weight of piglets weaned per litter (average 87.1 kg). A total of 240 progeny from each terminal sire line breed were then used to establish growth rate, feed intake and feed use efficiency from weaning to finish (target 100 kg).

In addition the carcass quality of a sub-section of pigs taken to slaughter weights of 95, 105 and 115 kg live weight was assessed. The health of all pigs was above average and mortality during the experiment was low (on average 1.5%). There were no significant differences in growth rate, feed intake, feed use efficiency or variable weight or growth rate between wean and 10 weeks of age due to sire line breed. However, sire line breed had a significant effect on the performance of pigs during finishing. The growth rate and feed intake of Tempo pigs between 10 weeks of age and finish was 84 g/day and 80 g/day, respectively, higher than that of any other pigs. However, the feed use efficiency of Tempo pigs (2.23) was similar to that of the Pietrain (Austrian) (2.29) whereas the feed use efficiency of Pietrain (Belgium) pigs and Landrace pigs was poorer (2.35 and 2.42 respectively).

Variability in weight (at 20 weeks of age) and growth rate (between 10 and 20 weeks of age) was greater with Landrace pigs compared with the other terminal sire line breeds which were all similar. Landrace pigs were significantly fatter (P2 13.9 mm) than the other pigs (average P2 12.8 mm). However, the kill out percentage (KO%) and lean meat percentage of Pietrain pigs (77.2% and 61.0% respectively) were higher than that of the Tempo and Landrace pigs (average KO% 76.0% and lean meat % 60.1%). When slaughter weights were taken to 115 kg, the backfat depth and cold weight of all pigs increased significantly although kill out percentage remained constant. Furthermore, the growth rate of pigs taken to slaughter weights of 115 kg remained high and no ‘plateau’ effect was observed.

Economically, Tempo and Pietrian (Austrian) pigs had a similar margin over feed which was approximately £4.40 more than Landrace pigs and £1.40 more than Pietrain Belgium pigs.

In conclusion, Tempo pigs grew faster and were more efficient than Pietrain or Landrace pigs. However, the carcass performance of Pietrain pigs was superior to Tempo and Landrace pigs. There was a lower financial cost associated with the rearing of Tempo pigs but when carcass value was taken into consideration it was found that Tempo and Pietrain (Austrian) pigs had a similar margin over feed. Due to their high growth rate, more efficient use of housing could be achieved using Tempo pigs as they reached 105 kg approximately one week earlier than Pietrain (Austrian) pigs which were the next fastest growing sire line breed.