How the Consumer Influences a Commerical Breeding Program


By Konrad Broekman

Hypor Expect More

Breeding Goal

Supplying top genetics for pork production at the lowest costs is at the core of Hypor’s business. To support efficient pork production, Hypor focuses on balanced breeding, which means producing pigs that thrive under all conditions. Balanced breeding contributes to an increase in total system profitability – meaning profitability in the entire value chain.

Hypor is working to measure more novel phenotypes within the whole pork value chain. The addition of novel traits makes pig breeding more complex, as more and more traits can be monitored and the possible configurations are endless. There are serious downsides to focusing on just one or a few traits. Rather, the relationships between the different traits are critical to increase total system profitability. Producing easy to manage, robust sows in integrated systems will ultimately help to improve the output of kilograms (or pounds) of pork produced per sow per year.

Pork Value Chain

A focus on balanced breeding has ripple effects throughout the pork value chain – after all, everything is connected.

Performance in one phase has connections upstream and downstream. Cost, revenue and performance are also interconnected.

For simplicity, we’ve divided the pork value chain into six layers: the piglet producers, the finisher farms, the packers, the processors, the distributors and the consumers. Each layer has its own needs and, within each layer, genetics can create added value.

Piglet producers

Piglet producers strive to maximize the capacity to produce uniform, heavy and good quality pigs in one litter. The quest for large litters needs to be balanced with ensuring high birthweights, with fewer piglets under 800 grams (1.8 pounds). Producers want to achieve a solid sow performance, proven sow efficiency and enhanced productivity.

A solid sow performance means that a sow is built to last, and that she is productive and in the herd until you decide to replace her. By maximizing the number of full potential pigs Spring 2017 www.pigchamp.com 11 she weans in her lifetime, we help minimize the cost per pig marketed. When we talk about proven sow efficiency, we are focusing on management factors like: how easy is the breeding process? How efficiently does the sow herd convert feed into quality pigs? And how does labor contribute to the cost of a weaned pig?

Enhanced productivity is more than just the quantity of piglets a sow produces; the quality of these piglets is equally important. Litters should be large, but the piglets must also be large, uniform and robust in order to maximize their profitearning potential.

Finisher farms

The finisher farms strive to finish high-quality weaned piglets efficiently, consistently and quickly. Finisher farms want to achieve improved cost efficiency, easy to manage production and high throughput efficiency.

There are many ways to improve cost efficiency and increase margins. Improving feed efficiency, increasing the proportion of full potential pigs fitting in the local slaughterhouse grid and increasing the proportion of lowmaintenance pigs are the main drivers to achieve these goals.

There is something to be said for easy to manage, lowmaintenance pigs. Robust and durable, pigs that can thrive in challenging environments can save producers a lot of money.

By the time animals reach finishing, there is already a lot invested in them. What is the true cost of animals falling out at heavy weights? How much extra money are we spending to get weaker animals to market? High efficiency and high performance – you can have both with the correct breading program! Fast growing, uniform with predictable performance, throughput efficient pigs help optimize pig flow and maximize facility turnover.

Packers, processors and distributors

The needs of packers, processors and distributors can be summarized by evaluating the different production and marketing options. Then, select the combination which results in the most profit while still meeting the expectations of processors, consumers and society.

The needs of packers, processors and distributors consist of a secure and high-quality supply of carcasses, excellence in food safety, uniformity within each concept, and optimal carcass and meat quality. Carcass yield and meat quality are highly influenced by genetics, health, nutrition and management. To optimize yield, we need to consider both carcass yield and lean yield. Breeding programs focus on maximizing the economics of kilograms (or pounds) of pork produced per sow during her productive life.


Consumers desire good, uniform and consistent meat quality with a good taste. How can genetics answer some of these questions? Meat quality traits, like low drip loss, pH, meat color and intramuscular fat, are essential in today’s pig breeding programs.

Consumers want convenience and variety. How do we keep consumers reaching for pork on the retail shelves? What can we do to make the consumer choose pork more often? It’s not as complicated as one might think – we achieve this goal by ensuring consistent delivery of uniform, high quality and high value products.

Select the boar with the correct qualities to satisfy the specific market needs. In general, breeding companies offer a wide variety of boars with the possibility to pre-select based on values within the breed.

Consumers are also increasingly interested in the who, where, why and how of pork production when it comes to the environment, animal welfare, food safety and sustainability. We need robust animals with enhanced ability to perform in challenging environments in order to help advance the sustainability of pig production. To help accomplish this goal, more tools and identification of new predictive biomarkers for animal health are being developed to select for improved robustness of animals.

In terms of animal welfare, consider selecting sows with sufficient teats for their piglets and with an excellent weaning capacity. Group behavior is important, too – it has an impact on feed efficiency, growth, and the wellbeing of each sow, piglet and finisher.

Food safety can be ensured by maintaining a high level of biosecurity. This standard requires high health nucleus farms, back up of genetics lines and frequent health monitoring. Responsible use of antibiotics and breeding for disease resilience are the tip of the iceberg.

Sustainability is another important driver in setting new industry standards and stimulating innovation. Breeding programs focus on efficiency, and selecting animals that consume less feed and water. In addition, animals can be selected on the basis of their residual feed intake or utilization of lower quality feed ingredients. By applying genomic selection, we can reduce the environmental footprint of pork production drastically in the coming 50 years. Reductions of up to 27 per cent in greenhouse gases, up to 44 per cent less acidification and almost 58 per cent less eutrophication are achievable, based on internal studies completed by Hendrix Genetics in 2015.

Code-EFABAR, for example, is a voluntary code of good practice for responsible farm animal breeding. Adhering to such a code, as Hypor does, is an important part of a sustainable and healthy food supply chain, and demonstrates that Hypor is committed to supporting a sustainable future.




Genomic selection

Hypor has implemented genomic selection for all the breeding lines for the past couple of years. For all the lines, Hypor uses DNA information to get a better estimate of the genetic relationship between individual animals.

Future pigs will have their own genomic breeding value, based on their own unique pattern of DNA markers. This genomic breeding value will predict, with quite a high accuracy, what this pig’s genes are worth for breeding. More accurate genetic relationships, in combination with a multitrait genetic evaluation, enables Hypor to make the most effective use of all available information. The amount of available DNA information continues to grow. The enormous increase in data for each line, but also for each animal, allows for accelerated genetic progress in all traits which are most important in the pork value chain.

Konrad Broekman, Senior Geneticist Eastern Europe and Asia, Hypor
Konrad Broekman is the senior geneticist at Hypor, responsible for the Hypor pig breeding program in Northern and Eastern Europe and Asia. He was instrumental in establishing an intensive global pig breeding program for 20 countries in the Northwest, East European and Asian region.

Hypor’s genetic program is based on large populations that consist of two dam lines: Hypor Landrace and Hypor Large White. Together, they parent the most balanced sow in the world: Hypor Libra. The four sire lines (Hypor Maxter, Hypor Magnus, Hypor Kanto and Hypor Myrus) ensure that you get the best meat or the most meat at least cost. Hypor is part of Hendrix Genetics, a leading multispecies company. For more information, visit www.hypor.com and www.hendrix-genetics.com.