The backtest response of a pig gives an indication of its coping style, that is, its preferred strategy to cope with stressful situations, which may in turn be related to production traits. The objective of this study was therefore to estimate the heritability of the backtest response and estimate genetic correlations with production traits (birth weight, growth, fat depth and loin depth). The backtest was performed by placing the piglet on its back for 60 s and the number of struggles (NrS) and vocalizations (NrV), and the latency to struggle and vocalize (LV) was recorded. In total, 992 piglets were subjected to the backtest. Heritability estimates for backtest traits were statistically moderate (although high for behavioral traits), with LV having the highest heritability estimate (0.56±0.10, P<0.001) and NrS having the lowest estimate (0.37±0.09, P<0.001). Backtest traits also had high genetic correlations with each other, with vocalization traits (NrV and LV) having the highest (-0.94±0.03, P<0.001), and NrS with NrV the lowest correlation (0.70±0.09, P<0.001). No significant correlations were found between backtest traits and production traits, but correlations between NrS and birth weight (-0.38±0.25), and NrV and loin depth (-0.28±0.19) approached significance (P=0.07). More research into genotype-by-environment interactions may be needed to assess possible connections between backtest traits and production traits, as this may depend on the circumstances (environment, experiences, etc.). In conclusion, heritability estimates of backtest traits are high and it would therefore be possible to select for them. The high genetic correlations between backtest traits indicate that it may be possible to only consider one or two traits for characterization and selection purposes. There were no significant genetic correlations found between backtest traits and production traits, although some of the correlations approached significance and hence warrant further research.
- Genetic correlations
- Production traits