Stronger Jaws Mean More Milk

BELGIUM - Why do piglets with a lean muscle gene show improved survivability and quicker growth?
calendar icon 20 February 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The answer, according to university researchers in Belgium, is that the muscle they use for suckling is more developed at birth, and this helps them get life-saving colostrum quicker and more efficiently.

Image: NPA

Rattlerow’s Optimus and Maximus boars, which carry the Bettergen Muscle+ gene, pass on higher lean meat content, less back fat and increased uniformity.

But producers using these sires have also been seeing piglets with significantly more vitality and improved survivability.

Researchers at Ghent university have discovered the link — piglets inheriting the gene have a better developed masseter muscle. The masseter muscle is in the jaw and is integral to piglets’ sucking reflex.

“A better developed masseter muscle can significantly benefit suckling and colostrum intake and it is this that can positively influence neonatal piglet survival,” said geneticist Geert Spincemaille, of Rattlerow Seghers Belgium.

Research shows piglets sired by boars that pass on the Bettergen Muscle+ gene to offspring have markedly higher intakes of colostrum than genotypes that do not carry the gene.

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