Mortality Rate and Survival of Pigs Classified by Immune Response Phenotype Using the High Immune Response Technology™ Keywords: pigs, immune response phenotype, mortality, survivorship, disease challenge Managing disease in pork populations is one of the most costly and difficult challenges for pork producers. The High Immune Response (HIR™) Technology developed at the University of was first successfully tested in pigs and allows for the identification of animals with more robust and balanced immune responses (IR). It’s now used commercially to identify dairy cattle with increased capacity for antibody and cell mediated-IR (AMIR, CMIR), and subsequently increased disease resistance (Thompson-Crispi et al., 2013). Previously, when Yorkshire pigs were selectively bred for IR it was found that high (H) IR pigs had improved responses to vaccination and pathogen challenge compared to the control line and low (L) responders. Although previous research in pigs clearly demonstrated favourable responses to breeding pigs for HIR, this method has not been tested in commercial herds. The study discussed here focuses on the differences observed in mortality rate and length of survival of IR phenotyped Yorkshire x Landrace F1 barrows (n=1005), provided by seven different Canadian swine companies comprising PigGen Canada. It was hypothesized that high IR piglets would die less frequently and be more likely to reach slaughter than piglets classified as average (A) and L when exposed to disease. It was found that pigs with H capacity for IR died less frequently than those with an A or L capacity (p=0.015). The same was true when considering length of survival and ability to successfully reach market weight. Specifically, none of the pigs classified as H, for both AMIR and CMIR (H-H), died. Moreover, it was found that piglets classified as poor responders tended to die faster than piglets of A or mixed response phenotypes. The majority of pigs classified as H performed better than those of poor, A, and mixed response (p=0.015). Therefore, IR phenotyping of pigs clearly identifies animals with the potential to withstand pathogen-challenge by making strong and appropriate IRs. These animals may also display production related advantages, as observed in previous experiments. Therefore, the implementation and integration of the HIR™ technology into commercial pig breeding programs is expected to yield both health and production benefits.

Julie Schmied, Austin Putz, Jack Dekkers, Michael Dyck, Frédéric Fortin, John Harding, Graham Plastow, PigGen, Bonnie Mallard

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Biology - Disease Resistance 2, , 653, 2018
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