|dc.description.abstract||Simple Summary: In the Republic of Serbia, pig selection in recent decades has been based on
genetic improvement of growth and carcass quality traits. Genetic improvement of reproductive traits of pigs was based on the so-called phenotypic selection. The introduction of modern information systems and the availability larger dataset have opened the possibility to perform genetic estimation of reproductive traits within the main breeding programme of the Republic of Serbia. Using the methods of gene flow and connectedness evaluation, our study investigated the possibility of improving the reliability of estimating the breeding value of reproductive traits in highly productive sows. We believe that these methods could lead to a systematic improvement of the genetic value of reproductive traits in sows. Thus far, none of the methods for estimating the degree of connectedness between herds in pigs has been used in the preparation of the National Breeding Programme of the Republic of Serbia.
Abstract: This study investigated the influence of the degree of connectedness on the reliability of
the estimated breeding values (EBVs). The focal trait in the study was the number of piglets born
alive (NBA) from sows of the highly prolific Large White and Landrace sows. An analysis included
total of 58,043 farrowing’s during the 2008–2020 period. BLUP procedure was used to estimate the breeding values for NBA for the three herds separately and after merging all three herds into one herd. The model for EBV estimation included the following fixed factors: parity, genotype, seasons, litter sire, herds, sow age at farrowing, weaning-conception interval, length of previous lactation, and the following random effects: common litter environment, permanent litter environment, and direct additive genetic effect of animal. Heritability values for NBA ranged from 0.048 to 0.097, depending on the data included in the analysis. The connectedness between herds was analysed using the connectedness rating (CR) and the gene flow (GF) methods. CR among the observed herds ranged from 0.245 to 0.994%, depending on the data included. The exchange of genetic material between all three herds was determined using GF method. The high degree of connectedness determined by the CR and GF method had a strong effect on EBV reliability. The average EBV reliability ranged from 0.520 to 0.867, depending on the data included. The increase in average reliability was observed in both cases when the data were added, both in the analysis of average reliability for purebred animals and when crossbreeds were added, where an increase in this value was also observed. The increase in average EBV reliability is a consequence of the greater amount of information included in the joint evaluation. In conclusion, we believe that our research will improve EBV reliability and help in further selection work in the Republic of Serbia.||sr