Farmscape for August 11, 2020
By exposing pigs to the types and amounts of pathogens that would be encountered on a typical farm scientists are identifying animals that are genetically resilient to infections.
An international team of scientists has been contributing to a natural disease challenge model, established in 2014 at the CDPQ wean to finish commercial research facilities in Quebec, to evaluate the resilience of swine to disease.
Dr. John Harding, a Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says, by exposing pigs to disease in a controlled commercial-like setting, it's possible to compare the disease resilience of different genetic lines.
Clip-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
What we're doing is what we call a natural disease challenge model.
It is more like a field trial but it's not done in a commercial farm, it's done in a research institution.
We've done that by maintaining a level of disease challenge in this unit quite systematically over a matter of three to four years so we understand what pathogens are in the barn.
We do things to animals in terms of nose to nose contact or physical distancing to maintain a certain level of challenge that's not too high but not too low.
We bring in healthy animals, we anticipate they will become challenged, we know exactly when that's occurring, we monitor to make sure every single batch does get challenged.
The quantity of challenge is not characterised.
We know it's present.
We have a rough idea of how much it is.
We track mortality and morbidity so we know that we're roughly too high or roughly too low and we do things to try to manipulate that.
It's kind of a combination of both the experimental and a field outbreak but the important thing is that it is a natural challenge.
We're not inoculating any animals in this model and we're dealing with multiple organisms that are there.
Dr. Harding says there's a list of viruses and bacteria that the pigs will be exposed to, some of them every single batch, while others may get exposed at some point.
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