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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange


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Genetics of litter size and foetal loss in pigs

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Research partners: Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)

Industry partners: AHDB Pork-funded studentship (Silvia C. Hernandez-Velasco)

Duration: 2007–2010 

Aims and objectives

  • To identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting reproductive traits
  • To identify and characterise positional candidate gene(s) underlying the QTL. 


Using the gene identified in this research for selection could generate a financial benefit to the English pig industry. 

With the figures collected in 2010, when there were 424,500 breeding animals and 22.1 piglets were reared per sow per, the use of the QTL for prenatal survival mapped in this study could provide a £13m benefit due to an increase of around 0.7 piglets per sow per year. 

However, for a long term profit a reduction on the breeding sows stock would be recommended. Thus, a reduction of 12,500 sows would produce the same number of annual reared piglets and a reduction in part of the production cost. 

Further information