Mulefoot Hogs - Recessive Genes?

| 11/9/2012 12:36:30 AM

Tags: Farrowing pigs, Mulefoot Hogs, Mulefoot Pigs, Red Striped Pigs, Recessive Mulefoot Genetics, Terra Dei Farm, Alexandra Reel,

Okay, I'm going to put my pride on the shelf and adopt utter transparency here.  We had a new litter of Mulefoot hogs born on the farm recently.  Both parents are registered, traditional black stock.  Here is the litter:

 Striped Red Mulefoot Pigs Bad 


Sorry the picture is black and white, but you can see which 3 pigs I'm talking about.  In color, they are a reddish gray, with stripes.  Kind of like a chipmunk.  Has anyone else had any experience with this?

I've done a good deal of searching and researching since they were born.  Or, I should say that I've tried.  There is a scant amount of information to be found online.  For good reason, nobody wants to risk their reputation as a breeder by admitting that this recessive gene has shown up on their farm.

But, for the good of the breed, I think it might be time to start talking about it.  What I've found is that it is a recessive gene in some bloodlines. But 3 pigs in one litter?  I question whether it is recessive enough.

alexandra reel
11/16/2012 9:36:31 PM

I agree - amusing! I love just standing at the fence and watching our hogs play and just "be hogs". But, of course, when it comes to hogs nothing is more enjoyable than eating that farm fresh pork! :)

milk maid
11/13/2012 6:15:29 PM

I find this interesting. We have not had pigs but for the ones our son's friend brought to us. They were very amusing and I was very happy when they jumped in the freezer. LOL

alexandra reel
11/12/2012 8:07:26 PM

You raise a good point, Suzy. While, I'm certain that the breeding to this particular sow was done by a registered Mulefoot boar, the recessive striped gene is indicative of the primitive state of Mulefoot genetics. A variety of factors, but the Mulefoot gene pool just hasn't evolved as far away from their wild ancestors as most of the more modern swine breeds. Also, for a time during the previous century the registries had collapsed and records were scarce - breeders are still dealing with outcrossing (both wild and domesticated) that may have happened during that gap and weed out these rouge recessives.

milk maid
11/10/2012 5:12:46 PM

Hi Alexandra, a few years back our sons friend showed up one day with 5 wild piglets. 3 were marked as these 3 are. I'd guess a wild pig had a visit a few months back with your sow. Milk Maid ( Suzy )

alexandra reel
11/9/2012 8:42:28 PM

Hank, Thank you so much for your very educated and informative reply - I really appreciated it. The boar was not the same one used on the mother, and not closely related to the sow in question at all. So, there is not a significant inbreeding coefficient (although, the Mulefoot gene pool is small enough account for a certain level I suppose.) While the red pigs are not worth anything as breeding stock, our primary hog focus is raising and finishing pasture raised commercial duroc/hamp feeders - so we can just throw the red pigs in with the rest of feeders at weaning and it should all come out in the wash. My greatest concern is how to proceed for reasons of genetic purity. For the mulefoot breed standard, any color other than black is a fatal flaw. With that in mind, should a person aiming for registered breeding stock, in good conscience, continue to breed black animals that throw a significant number of red offspring? And, if so, what would constitute "a significant number"? These are the things that I have been pondering... Like I said, it really doesn't matter for our operation. But, with an endangered breed, one always tries to look beyond their own farm at the larger picture....and that is where I start having questions on conscience...

hank will
11/9/2012 7:47:04 PM

Hey Alexandra --In my part of the world, redish Mulefoots are not that unusual. They grow the same, they convert feed the same and they taste the same. There is no shame in red even if it is less desirable for some breed-standard reason. You are correct that black color is generally dominant in mammals with red being one of the recessive alleles to black. Coat color inheritance is fascinating and is controlled by many different genes and their respective alleles. Add in epistasis, co-dominance and the like, and you have quite a lot of possibilities with coat color in hogs. My first question is whether you used the same boar on this sow as you did on her mother. Line breeding is a sure way to expose recessive traits ... and even double or triple recessive traits -- traits that are controlled by two or three gene pairs. The striping pattern is typical of wild hogs, which most certainly contributed some genetics to animals from which the breed was developed. The stripes go away as they age and the animals grow darker. I can't tell from your photos, but most of these that I have seen develop a black coat with reddish highlights or a black undercoat with red bristles. A close look at some of the hairs show a reddish banding on a mostly black hair (likely the wild-type agouti color pattern expressing red or cinnamon in the band instead of white). I Wouldn't be too concerned about this unless you can only get the good price on black Mulefoots. My suspicion is that your last cross had roughly a 50 percent chance for black and the other color pattern, which would fit any number of genetic inheritance models -- remember each fertilization has an independent chance of going one way or the other so even if the model says 50 percent expected, any individual litter can vary from that significantly. I personally like color diversity in my hog herd but our business isn't breeding stock. It has been a while since I read the Mulefoot breed standard -- is non-black a fatal flaw? Even if the standard is for all black, since we are looking at the combined action of 3 or more gene pairs, without close line breeding thesehogs of a different color would almost never be seen. Hope that helps some, feel free to email me or give me a call if you want to talk genetics more. Thanks, Hank

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