MEAD, NE (B)--After 20 years of research, the University of Nebraska has succeeded in breeding sows that deliver much larger litters of piglets. The new line of hogs is expected to generate millions of dollars for the university, as the Monsanto Co.--the nation's second largest swine genetics firm--has bought exclusive rights to the line for the next 10 years.
The sows regularly deliver litters of 13 to 14 piglets, instead of the usual 10 to 12 piglets. However, they do not grow as fast as piglets from some other hybrids.
"What they will acquire by using our pigs is improved litter size," said Matt Anderson, swine research manager at the UNL Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.
When the new line is crossed with other lines, it will add improved bone size, leanness and other characteristics for hogs to be sold for market, Anderson said.
UNL researchers selected individuals based on the number of ovulated eggs, fetuses present at 50 days of gestation and litter size at birth to develop the Nebraska Index Line-a composite population from the Landrace and Large White breeds. The research was funded by the state of Nebraska and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"One of our goals is to do research that benefits people," said NU president L. Dennis Smith.
Federal laws encourage the transfer of technology from research universities to the private sector.
The amount of royalties that UNL will receive through the Monsanto contract will depend on the number of animals used and the amount of semen sold.