Acta Univ. Agric. Silvic. Mendelianae Brun. 2019, 67, 1213-1219
Published online 2019-10-31

Genetic Analysis of Feet and Leg Conformation and Proportion of Crushed Piglets in Austrian Large White and Landrace Sows

Christina Pfeiffer1, Birgit Fuerst-Waltl1, Katharina Schodl1, Peter Knapp2

1Division of Livestock Science, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel Strasse 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
2Schweinezuchtverband & Besamung OOE, Waldstraße 4, 4641 Steinhaus, Austria

Received July 19, 2019
Accepted August 26, 2019

Selection for feet and leg traits can increase longevity as well as several performance traits in sows. Moreover, good feet and leg quality contributes improving animal welfare not only for sows, but also for piglets. Sows with feet and leg problems have a higher risk of crushing their piglets when lying down. Therefore, a feet and leg scoring scheme was derived and applied by trained assessors. Furthermore, piglet mortality rate by crushing was recorded. Genetic parameters as well as breeding values were estimated and the effect of the traits on piglet mortality rate by crushing was investigated. Data of 993 Large White and 299 Landrace sows of 23 nucleus farms were analyzed. Heritabilities ranged from 0.03 to 0.16 for piglet mortality rate by crushing and pastern fore legs. Some genetic correlations between feet and leg traits were significantly highly correlated (0.69 to 0.79). Sows with favorable scores for almost all feet and leg scores had higher estimated breeding values for piglet mortality rate. Higher values indicate less crushed piglets and are thus favorable. An introduction of a feet and leg scoring scheme into routine genetic evaluation may thus contribute to animal welfare improvement for sows and piglets.


Authors gratefully acknowledge pig farmers for data collection as well as the employees from the breeding organizations for supporting farmers during the data collection period as well as assessing all sows. Many thanks to Christine Leeb from BOKU University for supporting the training workshop for the breeding organizations’ employees Funding This research was funded by the Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism Austria and the Austrian Pig Farmers Association (


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