The Göttingen Minipig is a laboratory animal of worldwide importance. The breed was developed in the 1960's at the University of Göttingen, Germany, using the founder breeds Minnesota Minipigs, Vietnamese Potbelly Pig and German Landrace. After the initial period under free range conditions the population was stocked under high hygienic standards. In 1992 an exclusive licence contract was made between Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs ApS in Denmark and the University of Göttingen. Since 2002 the production and marketing of Göttingen Minipigs in the USA is managed by Marshall Farms, Inc. under licence from Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs A/S. Today, there are three Danish, one American and one German population. The genetic management for all populations is provided by the University of Göttingen. The main focus is the maintenance and reduction of inbreeding and genetic drift, the maintenance of a high degree of uniformity and genetic progress in the main selection traits. The main selection trait in the past was the number of piglets born alive. By producing many piglets per sow and year, a fast genetic exchange of breeding animals could be achieved leading to a minimised inbreeding in the populations. To satisfy the market demands of a small and easy to handle minipig and to overcome the problem of an antagonistic relationship between litter size and body weight, the trait body weight reduction was included in the selection scheme using a restricted selection index. It is planned for the future to include temperament traits in the breeding scheme. Due to fast developments in genome-based breeding applications, these new methods can soon be implemented for an efficient control of genetic drift and inbreeding or even for genome-based selection.
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