Farmscape for January 20, 2016
A professor of livestock genomics with the University of Alberta says improved animal health is one of the areas where the use of genomics offers tremendous potential.
As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, scientists are developing tools to enable effective genomic selection for disease resilience.
Dr. Graham Plastow, a professor of livestock genomics with the University of Alberta, told those on hand last week for the Banff Pork Seminar, when animals get sick it's a tremendous burden in terms of lost production, treatment and even mortality but it's one of those things that genetically it's very difficult to make improvements.
Clip-Dr. Graham Plastow-University of Alberta:
If you think about it, when we do our animal breeding or what we call the genetic improvement to enhance the performance of our animals, we do that in high health herds.
One of the reasons we do that is because we want to ship our genetics all around the world and to do that it has to be disease-free or very high health status but, where we produce the pork in the commercial barns, it's much harder to maintain such a health status.
There are more pigs for a start and the farms are closer together so maintaining a clean environment is very difficult.
So we have that immediate disconnect from where the animals are selected and how we do the selection and how our farmers and producers produce the pork.
So understanding the genetics of disease becomes very important.
If we can find variation in DNA because DNA is very easy to assay.
We can assay the DNA of a young pig and then we can predict how it's going to grow and we do that through breeding value estimation but, if we could find DNA variation and then use that to make predictions about how they perform in a commercial herd, that would be fantastic.
Dr. Plastow says that would be almost the perfect example of using genomic technology.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.
*Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork