Selecting for Disease Resilience Improves Profitability and Animal Welfare

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Farmscape for November 17, 2020

Full Interview 14:18 Listen

A Geneticist with Hypor-Hendrix Genetics says, by improving the disease resilience of swine, the pork sector can improve its competitiveness against other protein sources while further demonstrating its commitment to animal welfare. “Chasing Disease Resilience” with be discussed Thursday as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2020, being held virtually each week until December 3rd. Dr. Austin Putz, a Geneticist with Hypor-Hendrix Genetics and an affiliate with Iowa State University, says the recognition that disease resilience can be a factor in productivity and profitability has helped fuel an increased interest in disease resilience.

Clip-Dr. Austin Putz-Hypor-Hendrix Genetics:
At the end of the day, our breeding objective is centered around increasing the profitability of individual producers.
But really what we’re doing as well is increasing our competitive edge against other protein sources such as beef or chicken.
When you see what happened to the dairy industry when they had an increased number of substitutes you can see how their prices have been suppressed. I think if we can continue to be the lowest cost producer, we already do an incredible job from a management perspective here in North America, in the U.S. and Canada.

If we can continue to increase the resilience in our pigs and hopefully limit the production losses from management and genetics, we can really hopefully increase our piece of the pie in terms of retailer’s plate. Then on the second piece of that would be to show we really do care. That’s kind of one of our slogans here in the U.S. at least, the “We Care” principle. By selecting for pigs that are more resilient we can reflect our attitudes toward welfare. You see that in our producers.
They really want to do a good job of being economically sensible but all of our producers really care about we’re treating the animals.

The health and welfare are really important. The old saying, is kind of the “licence to operate” with the public. I think we need to show that we’re continuing to do that and work with the animals and provide the best environment we can. Anything we can do on that front would be good.

Dr. Putz says the heightened interest has also stimulated increased commitments from funding agencies to this concept.

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