Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., have found a genetic marker for increasing litter size in pigs. This can help producers select for pigs that would produce more piglets, boosting efficiency.
Jeffrey L. Vallet and his colleagues found a strategically located single nucleotide polymorphism that appears in studies to be associated with litter size. SNPs are genetic variations that can be used in breeding programs to keep track of an animal's genetic value.
Vallet and geneticist Bradley A. Freking have developed an assay to detect the SNP in individual sows. The ability to quickly identify the beneficial SNP allele could one day allow breeders to select sows with improved uterine capacity and litter size, thus increasing production efficiency.
Source: ARS release