A Survey of Relationships Among Rare Breeds of Pigs

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2010: $6,619.25
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Grant Recipient: University of Missouri
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Bill Lamberson
University of Missouri

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Animals: swine


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, livestock breeding
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity

    Proposal abstract:

    Vertical integration of agriculture has dangerously reduced genetic variation among breeds used in commercial operations. Though benefits of biodiversity are often overlooked, there are farmers and organizations interested in preserving rare and endangered breeds for future generations. A constraint faced by many is the lack of pedigree data available for these breeds, which makes planning matings to avoid inbreeding difficult. Inbreeding increases homozygosity, therefore reducing genetic variation. Inbreeding often leads to the appearance of undesirable or deadly homozygous recessive traits which reduce a breed’s viability. This project focuses on increasing interest in rare pig breeds by expanding the genetic knowledge available to producers and the public. The main outcomes of this project are: 1) Establish relationships among animals without pedigree data; 2) Increase producer awareness of genetic variation in order to preserve rare breeds for future generations. Three viable, rare pig breeds with little or no pedigree data will be selected for evaluations. After collecting and genotyping DNA samples, relationships will be established for animals within these breeds of swine. Accurate relationship data will allow producers plan matings to maintain genetic diversity. Greater genetic variation will allow rare breeds to remain viable for future generations, providing farmers opportunities for niche marketing. A follow up with producers involved in this project will evaluate how the relationship data and genetic information has aided their reproductive management.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project has three main goals resulting in positive outcomes for the livestock industry: 1) Conduct survey of viable rare breeds; 2) Determine relationships among animals which do not have pedigree data available; 3) Compare alleles among rare breeds and with those of common breeds to establish which breeds provide the greatest level of genetic diversity.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.