Relationship between semen quality and meat quality traits in Belgian Piétrain boars
Arsenakis I., Appeltant R., Sarrazin S., Rijsselaere T., Van Soom A., Maes D.
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The main objective of this study was to assess the semen quality of Piétrain boars originating from Belgian AI centers and to correlate these results with their meat quality traits. Freshly diluted semen doses from 140 boars originating from 10 artificial insemination (AI) centers were used and stored for five days at 17 °C. Motility was assessed daily using a computer assisted semen analyzer (Hamilton-Thorne), while morphology and concentration were assessed on the day of semen collection (Day 0) by eosin-nigrosin staining and the Bürker counting chamber, respectively. These data were correlated with the lean meat percentage, loin eye depth and backfat thickness using linear mixed models taking into account the clustering of boars within each AI center and the daily measurements for each semen dose. The mean values (± SD) on Day 0 were: motility 79.7 ± 8.2%, live sperm 91.5 ± 4.3%, live normal sperm 83.6 ± 7.4%, and concentration 29.0 ± 10.6 (×106 sperm/mL). The average five-day motility across all AI centers was 77.7 ± 8.9%. None of the assessed semen quality traits were associated with lean meat percentage. Motility and progressive motility on Day 0 were positively associated with backfat thickness (P < 0.05), while no overall negative associations were elucidated between the latter semen quality traits and loin eye depth. The percentages of live and normal live sperm were not correlated with backfat thickness nor loin eye depth. To conclude, selection of terminal Belgian Piétrain boars for reduced backfat thickness might negatively influence semen motility, whereas selection for increased lean meat percentage and loin eye depth would not necessarily compromise semen quality traits.