Heritability of post-mixing aggressiveness in grower-stage pigs and its relationship with production traits

S. P. Turner*, I. M. S. White, S. Brotherstone, M. J. Farnworth, P. W. Knap, P. Penny, M. Mendl, A. B. Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mixing of commercial pigs frequently leads to intense aggression. Considerable phenotypic variation exists between individuals and selection against aggressiveness may offer a long-term reduction in aggression without incurring additional costs to the primary producer. The genetic contribution to aggressiveness was quantified in this study using the number of skin lesions as an indicator of involvement in aggression. A sample of 1132 pigs were mixed at an average weight of 27.9 (s.d. 4.6) kg into 96 pens on a commercial sire line nucleus unit. Post-mixing aggressiveness of pigs was assessed using the lesion score (LS) approach. Growth rate, between 27.9 and 91.9 kg, and backfat depth at 91.9 kg were recorded for a subsample of 658 pigs. With a pedigree file of 1947 animals, a heritability of 0.22 was estimated for the LS trait. No significant genetic or phenotypic correlations were found between LS and growth rate or backfat depth, but standard errors of estimates were large. The response to selection, when all selection pressure was placed on the LS trait, was a 25% reduction in LS per generation. It is therefore technically possible to select for a reduced LS without substantially inhibiting genetic progress in growth rate or backfat depth through antagonistic genetic relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-620
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal science
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • aggression
  • heritability
  • lesions
  • pigs
  • selection
  • SOWS

Cite this