Genetic Selection for Disease Resilience Expected to Become Mainstream

Farmscape for May 20, 2020

Full Interview 18:29 Listen

The identification of genetic traits that contribute to disease resilience in swine can be expected to become a mainstream approach to protecting pigs from disease. Since 2015 an international team of scientists has been contributing to a natural disease challenge model, established at the CDPQ wean to finish commercial research facilities in Quebec, for evaluating the resilience of swine to disease.
Dr. John Harding, a Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, explains pigs in the facility are exposed to many of the same infections that would be typically found in a commercial swine operation.

Clip-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
The key objective is to find indicator traits of resilience that can be measured in high health farms, nucleus or multiplication farms, that will improve disease resilience when those animals move into commercial farms that are less healthy. Diseases are getting more complex; production systems are getting larger. We have vaccines in our arsenal but they’re not always 100 percent effective and we don’t have vaccines for some very key diseases. We also have this issue of antibiotics becoming less available to us through our judicious use movement. As well we have factors of resistance that are developing associated with use or over use. The selection of genetically resilient pigs is really a valuable tool that we hope will become mainstream at some point in time in the future.

We’re not there yet but there are certain companies that are starting to use some of the previous findings from PRRS and perhaps Circovirus and incorporating resilience traits into their genetic selection processes. We’re thinking that in the future that will continue as we have more results from this natural disease challenge unit.

Dr. Harding says a number of approaches have been developed for identifying disease resilience, some are very promising, some are moving forward and some require a bit more study.

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