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Title: Improving udder quality traits in sows to aid survival and performance of piglets
Author: Balzani, Agnese
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 3935
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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Survival and growth of the piglet is determined by its ability to suckle rapidly after birth, which can be influenced by sow udder morphology. The initial aims of this research were to define a methodology to describe udder morphology (1), to study the sources of variation in the morphology (2) and its relationship with piglet teat preferences (3). A further aim was to assess colostrum quality (IgG) using a quick on-farm method (4), and the final objective was to estimate the heritability (h2) of udder morphology and colostrum traits (5). A methodology to describe a sow udder was developed from review of udder morphology literature and a pilot experiment assessed effects of sow posture, laterality and day on six udder traits, with good repeatability. Methodology was then applied and showed that sows parity number, breed, and teat pair position (anterior, middle, posterior) were significant sources of variation in udder traits. A study on newborn piglet suckling behaviour showed that piglet characteristics such as vitality score and birth weight did not affect teat preference or the latency from birth to first suckling. The majority of siblings suckled for the first time from a previously used teat, mostly located in the posterior part of the udder, though late born piglets preferred teats located in the anterior part. The evaluation of Brix refractometer percentage to assess IgG showed a positive correlation with laboratory Radial immunodiffusion results. Therefore this tool was adopted to investigate the genetic potential of colostrum IgG concentration. All udder morphology and colostrum traits measured in this study were moderate to highly hereditable, with some important correlations with reproductive and productive traits. These udder traits should be included in the breeding goal and weighed appropriately with other important traits in the breeding objectives to enhance optimal genetic progress.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Pig Executive
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available