The Danish breeding program dates back to the 18th century. In the last decade of the 20th century the breeding program was completely redesigned in collaboration with scientists from Universities and Research Institutes.
The Danish breeding program is based on a population of 15.000 pureline nucleus sows distributed on 44 Nucleus units. 90.000 animals are annually tested in the nucleus herds and 5000 boars are selected for comprensive testing at the Central Boar testing station Bøgildgaard. This enables a very high selection intensity, where only the very best animals are selected for the next generation.
The testing of animals on the central test station combined with testing of siblings distributed on 44 nucleus units enables to estimate the true breeding value without environmental effect from the individual nucleus herds.
The breeding value estimation furthermore includes pure and crossbred litter records from Nucleus-, Multiplier and Production herds dating back to 1985. The extensive amount of data enables the breeding program to improve traits with low heritability.
Competition between nucleus herds within the breeding program ensures low Generation Interval and the utilization of the highest ranking boars on the AI studs.
With the breeding animals distributed on 44 nucleus herds has ensured a very robust breeding program independent of management and health problems on the individual herds.
The breeding targets are updated regularly and adjusted to the cost of production at the leading pig producers.
The Danish pig production has in spite of its volume been able to obtain and maintain a very high health level. The high health level is due to a combination of the unique geographical circumstances of Danish Pig Production combined with a national health surveillance program and a veterinary contingency plan.
Single genes with economic impact on meat quality (RN-gene and Halgene) and health (F4) have continuously been removed.
Application of more advanced statistical methods along with the availability of increased computer power has continuously improved the breeding value estimation. Lately with the implementation of genomic selection.
The Danish Breeding program requires substantial annual investments and is only possible due to the unanimous commitment of slaughterhouses and pig producers to long-term investments in the pig industry.