Norsvin in the lead of CT Technology

The Norsvin experience using CT scanning as a high-intensive tool for breeding - 5 years of experience.

Norsvin implemented CT scanning of live boars in 2008, and since then, over 16.000 pedigreed animals have passed through the X-ray tube. Annually, the full program Norsvin market hog increases its value by 5 $ in an integrated system as a result of Norsvins high throughput phenotyping and intense selection. This achievement comes from focusing on production efficiency and carcass value both on maternal and terminal lines.

Norsvin in the lead on big-data

Since 2008, Norsvin has used CT scanning as part of our selection technology platform. 3.500 purebred, pedigreed boars are tested annually using this technology. The properties of CT images, and manipulation of these matrices require interdisciplinary knowledge, and progress cannot be made without acquiring and nurturing this knowledge. Norsvin is in the lead with 5 years experience and the best technology in house both within IT and human capital.

Norsvin Delta – the Boar test Station

In Norsvins breeding program, all selected AI boars in Norway are tested at the high technology test station. One hundred out of 3.500 tested boars/ year are used as Elite AI boars. These animals have phenotypes from FIRE, CT, highly detailed exterior scoring and Norsvin’s MQ-platform. Currently, all animals off-tested using CT is genotyped using 60K SNP-chip. Norsvin Delta Boar Test Station Video. For more videos of CT scanning - search for Norsvin at

EBV for CT phenotypes day after scanning

ct landrace

Norsvin has developed soft ware obtaining virtual carcass from the live pig scanned. It is 1.100 images/ animal giving 1 image for every 0.05 inches. The data program reading the images is an unique technology and new phenotypes generated from this program gives us data available for breeding estimation the same day. Norsvin is the only breeding company utilizing high quality CT data so fast.Today some phenotypes are automatically generated. These are lean meat percentage and yield, used in breeding goal. In addition there are several parameters of body composition automatically generated, like weight and density of bone, muscle and fat, and size of some premium cuts.

There is continuously research in making new phenotypes automatically measured from CT data. Some important traits are scored and analyzed by non-automatic methods. These are Osteochondrosis and meat quality. We are still able to analyze this data prior to selection.  

Backward compatible

Norsvin, focuses on a wider use of CT. By storing data and images of animals, we are able to look for new or improved traits backward in time. By using the historical database of images, new traits are be implemented quickly since one does not have to build an entirely new data set. Custom made traits can be measured by using this database of images, i.e. carcass, morphological, meat quality and robustness related traits. Future traits are only limited by our imagination and our ability to grasp what is in front of us and how specific markets in the future will valuate carcass and pork.

CT - increases annual genetic gain for sow performance and robustness

Using the CT helps Norsvin to focus on a broad, long term sustainable breeding goal and genetic improvement for our customers. One result of the high accuracy using CT is a higher heritability for CT measured traits. In addition, having the phenotypes on the selection candidate itself has made it possible to reduce the relative weight on carcass quality in the breeding goal while obtaining an even higher annual genetic progress. This has an indirect effect on the other traits as well, especially low-heritable traits like robustness, reproduction and maternal ability, enhancing annual progress for these traits.

Going forward, measuring meat quality and Osteochondrosis using CT, Norsvin again increases data accuracy and are able to measure directly on the selection candidate, thereby adding more annual progress to these and other low-heritable traits.

CT scanning since 1980’s

Since the early 1980's, CT scanning has been tested both in vivo and post mortem for experimental purposes in Norway, and the results have shown high correlation to finished carcass data. These research studies have involved a limited number of animals, particularly for in vivo studies. In a study by Leymaster in 1986, the biggest obstacles for applying CT were equipment and running costs. Due to limited experience with CT by animal scientists, many potential applications were not appreciated.

A lot of experience has been acquired since the 1980's, and computer hardware has developed exponentially i.e. from magnetic drives to SSD discs. The main focus using CT has been in measuring post mortem or in vivo body composition. However, experimental studies including new areas of interest, like meat quality and Osteochondrosis detection, has also shown promising results.