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News and analysis on the global poultry
and animal feed industries.
on June 29, 2009

Breakthrough in animal sex selection

The piglets were born on an Animal Science Institute farm.

Chinese scientists have claimed a commercial breakthrough after breeding 10 piglets whose sex was selected before conception, heralding potential higher profits for farmers, reported Xinhua.

The healthy piglets were born last week on a farm belonging to the Animal Science Institute in south China's GuangxiZhuang Autonomous Region, the institute's top zoologist Lu Kehuan said.

"They were the first pigs in China bred from sorted sperm," he said.

The piglets were born in two broods, an all-male brood of six on June 25 and an all-female brood of four on June 27. Prof. Lu and his team separated boar sperm with the female X chromosome from the male Y chromosome, and used artificial insemination techniques to transplant the separated sperm into four sows. Two of them gave birth after 115 days and the other two are due to give birth soon.

Lu said the "custom-tailored" piglets were no different from others in terms of weight and appetite. But the technique is expected to help farmers manipulate birth rate and upgrade quality of animal species, he said.

Under normal circumstances, the average gender proportion of male and female piglets is 50:50. "On many pig farms in south China, a young boar is about $715 (5,000 yuan) more expensive than a sow," said Lu.

Lu and his colleagues reported their first success in buffalo sex selection in 2006, when two female calves were born with X-bearing sperm.

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