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Exploring Phenotypes for Disease Resilience in Pigs Using Complete Blood Count Data From a Natural Disease Challenge Model

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  • Disease resilience is a valuable trait to help manage infectious diseases in livestock. It is anticipated that improved disease resilience will sustainably increase production efficiency, as resilient animals maintain their performance in the face of infection. The objective of this study was to identify phenotypes related to disease resilience using complete blood count (CBC) data from a wean-to-finish natural disease challenge model, established to mimic the disease pressure caused by many common pathogens at the commercial level of pig production. In total, 2433 F1 crossbred (Landrace × Yorkshire) barrows that went through the natural disease challenge model were classified into four groups (resilient, average, susceptible, and dead) based on their divergent responses in terms of growth and individual treatment. Three sets of blood samples for CBC analysis were drawn at 2-weeks before, and at 2- and 6-weeks after the challenge: Blood 1, Blood 3, and Blood 4 respectively. CBC of Blood 1 taken from healthy pigs before challenge did not show differences between groups. However, resilient animals were found to be primed to initiate a faster adaptive immune response and recover earlier following infection, with greater increases of lymphocyte concentration from Blood 1 to Blood 3 and for hemoglobin concentration and hematocrit from Blood 3 to Blood 4, but a lower neutrophil concentration from Blood 3 to Blood 4 than in susceptible and dead animals (FDR < 0.05). The CBC traits in response to the challenge were found to be heritable and genetically correlated with growth and treatment, which may indicate the potential for developing CBC under disease or commercial conditions as a phenotype in commercial systems as part of developing predictions for disease resilience.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    • Bai, X., Wang, Z., Dyck, M. K., Field, C. J., Plastow, G. S., Putz, A. M., Dekkers, J. C. M., Fortin, F., Harding, J. C. S., & Canada, P. (n.d.). Exploring Phenotypes for Disease Resilience in Pigs Using Complete Blood Count Data From a Natural Disease Challenge Model. Frontiers in Genetics, 11.