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Application of genomics-based tools to select for pig disease resilience

PROJECT LEAD(S)/CO-LEAD(S) Michael Dyck (University of Alberta) & Bob Kemp (Genesus Genetics)
COMPETITION/ FUNDING OPPORTUNITY Genome Canada - Genomic Applications Partnership Program - GAPP
PROJECT END DATE March 31, 2024

Disease is an economically important trait in Canadian pork production and is one of the most difficult challenges to manage. It also contributes to poor public perception of food animal production in terms of animal welfare, food safety, and antimicrobial resistance. Pig breeding companies (Users) represented by PigGen Canada are the foundation of the Canadian pork production industry, and the business of pig breeding companies is to improve commercial pork producer productivity and profitability through genetic improvement of economically important traits. The project goal is to validate and deliver genomics-based selection tools that will increase the rate of genetic improvement for disease resilience in pigs by 30%. The project aims to: (1) fully validate promising disease resilience indicator traits and genomic tests in a health-challenged environment, (2) validate and implement the genomic tests and indicator traits of disease resilience in high-health breeding herds, (3) develop a genomic data and evaluation pipeline for use in high-health breeding herds, and (4) assess the impact of incorporating disease resilience into existing genetic improvement programs. Implementation of key findings and tools by PigGen Canada members would increase uptake of genomic selection strategies for disease resilience resulting in improved pig health, increased production/competitiveness of high-value, desirable pork products, and increased competitiveness of Canadian genetics in export markets.

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