A Methodology to Quantify Resilience in Growing Pigs
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There is a growing concern about the genetic determinism of resilience and its possible implementation in breeding programs. The objective of our study was to elaborate novel resilience indicators in growing pigs based on the deviation from the expected growth curve and the increment of the acute-phase protein haptoglobin (HP) after applying a common vaccine. A total of 445 pigs were vaccinated with an attenuated Aujeszky vaccine at 12 weeks of age. Deviation from the expected body weight (DBW) given the growth curve of unvaccinated pigs at 28 days post-vaccination (DPV) and the increment of HP at 4 DPV (DHP) were suggested as resilience indicators. Challenged pigs that maintained their productivity and had a minor activation of HP were deemed resilient, whereas pigs that had low DBW values and a high activation of HP were deemed susceptible. Pigs were also classified based on DBW and DHP relative to the expected BW at 28 DPV and to the basal level of HP, respectively. The concordance was high between both methods, indicating that DBW and DHP are not sensitive to the animal's expected BW nor the basal level of HP. The heritability estimates were moderate for DBW (0.33) and low-to-moderate for DHP (0.16). Our study suggests DBW and DHP as novel resilience indicators in pigs. The suggested indicators capture different aspects of resilience, are easy to measure, and are genetically controlled. Thus, they may be improved through selective breeding. Further analyses are needed to validate our findings.