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Hog breeding system reduces import reliance

Homegrown Lansi pig boasts disease resistance, superior economic traits

By LI LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-22 09:25

Lansi pig, a fast-growing hog strain. CHINA DAILY

Authorities have recently approved a homegrown breeding system for a fast-growing hog strain called the Lansi pig, helping to lessen China's reliance on imported boars for hog production.

The Lansi pig's complete set line — the genetic foundation for the new breeding system — was greenlighted for commercial application in March by the national livestock and poultry genetic resources committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The system was the brainchild of a research team headed by Li Kui from the Agricultural Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, an affiliate of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Guangdong province.

According to Li, the Lansi pig strain was developed based on global mainstream commercial pig breeds using advanced biological breeding technologies, such as molecular marker-assisted breeding and whole-genome-assisted breeding.

Compared with its ancestors, the Lansi pig has shown stronger resistance to disease, in addition to improved economic traits such as growth rate and a bigger share of lean meat, he said, adding it is expected to replace the Duroc, Changbai and Yorkshire breeds and become the mainstream commercial pig breed.

From 2018 to 2019, an outbreak of African swine fever led to a huge loss of pig stocks in China, and developing better disease resistance is of critical importance.

"Pigs hold a special status in our country," he said at a virtual news conference on Saturday.

"Both the number of pigs we raise and the consumption of pork account for about half the world's total, making it a multitrillion yuan industry. Pig breeding is closely related to the national economy and people's livelihoods," he added.

Li said the rollout of the Lansi pig offers valuable lessons for improving other imported pig varieties.

China is the world's biggest market for pork, consuming some 700 million pigs annually, about 90 percent of which are descendants of strains imported from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and France.

The rollout of the Lansi pig's breeding system has been fast-tracked by progress in the homegrown microarray technology, commonly called "pig chips", according to Li.

The technology refers to a microchip-based testing platform that allows automated analysis of many DNA samples at once. China's ability to make its own microarray testing kits has curbed the cost for analyzing a large quantity of genetic material, which is common in modern breeding.

"We have developed our own Tianpeng Chip, and have achieved full domestic production of the entire chip manufacturing process," Li said.

The Lansi pig breeding system was licensed for commercial use alongside 20 other homegrown varieties of livestock, poultry, silkworms and 17 newfound animal germ plasms — the genetic resources critical to breeding. It is part of a broader government effort to develop domestic food species that the country has full control over.

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