In the years to come, Norsvin strengthens its focus on robustness and disease tolerance in pigs through a new MUSD 2.7 research project.
Through this project Norsvin will identify new phenotypes and develop traditional as well as new, molecular breeding methods. The project is intended to lead to modified products in the form of more robust pigs which are better adapted to larger environmental differences.
We are seeing a progressive change in the production of pigs and pork around the world. The pigs have to perform under generally greater risk of infection and different stressors, while demands for efficiency and productivity are increasing all the time.
The need for a strategy whereby we select for increased robustness has therefore arisen. Breeding pigs that are less affected by stressors such as infection, temperature and other external factors will result in reduced illness, improved animal welfare and also increased profitability to the producer.
While others focus on resistance to specific diseases, Norsvin focus on general robustness and disease tolerance. This will be much more sustainable over time and will be able to cover increased robustness in all production systems, particularly with our resource-efficient material.
Degree of innovation
Norsvin plans to use the findings from the new research project to develop its own international «robustness index», to ensure selection of animals with the best genetic potential for robustness which are thus more suited to markets with a greater risk of infection and different stressors. This strategy is designed to produce more robust animals with less need for treatment and hence improved animal welfare and cost-effectiveness. Accurate breeding values of robustness characteristics are generally very low, and a new selection method is absolutely essential if we are to increase the robustness of our feed efficient material. The new selection method to be developed in this project will include genomic breeding value in addition to the traditional BLUP methods, which will significantly increase the accuracy of breeding values and response to selection.
«The technical goals of the project are ambitious, but attainable», says Dr. Eli Grindflek, project manager and Head of Norsvin’s R&D department. «The project will be working on problems where we have limited phenotypes and methods which are absent from today’s breeding systems», she continues. «The results will be a great improvement and of vital importance to the Norsvin genetic material».
The project is funded by Norsvin (1.3 million USD) and the Research Council of Norway (1.3 million USD). Norsvin will lead the project, in close cooperation with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NVH). BioBank AS, TOPIGS (R&D partner and breeding company in the Netherlands) and ISU (Iowa State University, USA) will act as service providers or technical partners.
“Robustness in pigs": ”“Pigs that combine high production potential with resilience to external stressors, allowing for unproblematic expression of high production potential in a wide variety of environmental conditions”.
Main photo: Avelspoolen/Persgard.