Research indicates that genetic mutation in boars, known as reciprocal translocations, can lead to the development of genetically “unbalanced” sperm cells. RTs may be the root cause of 50 percent of hypo-prolific boar problems and can result in a significant economic impact over the boar’s lifetime.

PIC has committed to take a leadership role in addressing and educating producers on this issue. “We need to emphasize that RTs are not specific to PIC or any genetics company, or to any line or breed for that matter,” says Amanda Williams, PIC technical services. 

PIC is providing karyotyping that is unique to North America via blood sampling of boars selected on performance test results. Testing is done only on sire lines, Williams says, because PIC selects for litter size in maternal lines, which screens against this mutation by definition. As there were no commercial laboratories offering this testing in North America, PIC’s parent company in DeForest, Wis., successfully established a karyotyping facility using expert advice from Darren Griffin at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. The technology was first applied to genetic nucleus herd sires in 2009.

For many years, PIC has calculated a crossbred breeding value for its boars. This innovative system measures the performance of crossbred siblings sired by the same genetic nucleus sires, raised and managed in commercial environments. The system helps PIC more accurately select pure lines based on how progeny are expected to perform in actual commercial conditions, not in the pristine genetic nucleus environment required for biosecurity reasons.

“This approach ensures that customers receiving boars selected by this method access real-time, commercial-sib test data that translates to faster genetic improvement and performance advantages on their farms,” Williams says. “The CBVPlus and CBVMax categories feature boars with the highest crossbred breeding value ranking of all PIC sires. CBVPlus and CBVMax boars are elite PIC artificial insemination sires, and we employ all possible technology to ensure against even the rare RT boar slipping through.”

CBVPlus and CBVMax boars going into customer systems have been tested for RTs since July 2010. RTs fortunately are a rare occurrence — about one in 150 boars inherit this trait and in about one in 5,000 boars it shows up spontaneously, Williams notes.