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Resilience in Growing Pigs
Resilience can be defined as the ability of the animal to rapidly recover its productivity despite the perturbations that might occur during its productive life.
Selective breeding for improved resilience would provide resistant animals with robust phenotypes . Thus, it would increase the profitability and the sustainability of the production systems. However, there is no straightforward quantification method for resilience. Resilience indicators have been elaborated based on productivity-related traits  and immune phenotypes  in several livestock species. In this review, a total of 445 commercial Duroc pigs were challenged with an attenuated Aujeszky vaccine at 12 weeks of age (experimental group) and 95 pigs were inoculated with phosphate-buffered saline (control group). The deviation from the expected body weight given the growth curve of control pigs (∆BW) and the increment of the acute-phase protein haptoglobin (∆HP) at 4 days post-vaccination (DPV) were suggested as resilience indicators in growing pigs. Challenged pigs that maintained their productivity and had a minor activation of the acute-phase protein haptoglobin were deemed resilient, whereas pigs that had low ∆BW values and high activation of haptoglobin were deemed susceptible. Pigs were also classified based on ∆BW relative to the expected body weight (BW) at 28 DPV (%BW) and ∆HP relative to the basal level of haptoglobin (%HP).
2. Descriptive Statistics for the Novel Resilience Indicators
|∆BW 2 (kg)||−0.68||3.64||−13.2||+10.1|
|%BW 3 (%)||−1.42||7.26||−24.4||+19.3|
|∆HP 4 (mg/mL)||+0.03||0.70||−1.41||+2.65|
|%HP 5 (%)||+5.40||60.4||−89.2||+292|
1 Standard deviation; 2 Body weight deviation from the expected growth curve of control pigs at 28 days post-vaccination (DPV); 3 Ratio between ∆BW and the expected body weight at 28 DPV given the growth curve of control pigs; 4 Haptoglobin increment at 4 DPV; 5 Ratio between ∆HP and the basal level of haptoglobin.
Phenotypic correlations between the resilience indicators are reported in Table 2. A negative and low correlation was reported between ∆BW and ∆HP (r = −0.09, p < 0.05), suggesting that they capture different aspects of resilience.
|Trait||∆BW 1||∆HP 2||%BW 3||%HP 4|
|∆BW||1||−0.09 *||0.99 ***||−0.14 **|
|∆HP||1||−0.09 ns||0.94 ***|
1 Body weight deviation from the expected growth curve of non-vaccinated pigs at 28 days post-vaccination (DPV); 2 Haptoglobin increment at 4 DPV; 3 Ratio between ∆BW and the expected body weight at 28 DPV given the growth curve of control pigs. 4 Ratio between ∆HP and the basal level of haptoglobin; 5 * p < 0.05; ** p < 0.01; *** p < 0.001; ns non-significant.
3. Classification of Pigs’ Resilience
|∆BW 1 (kg)||R||+3.54||1.42|
|%BW 2 (%)||R||+6.60||2.81|
|∆HP 3 (mg/mL)||R||−0.71||0.18|
|%HP 4 (%)||R||−61.2||18.9|
1 Body weight deviation from the expected growth curve of control pigs at 28 days post-vaccination (DPV); 2 Ratio between ∆BW and the expected body weight at 28 DPV given the growth curve of control pigs; 3 Haptoglobin increment at 4 DPV; 4 Ratio between ∆HP and the basal level of haptoglobin.
4. Heritability Estimates
|Trait||Mean 1||P0.10 2||HPD95% 3|
1 Mean of the marginal posterior distribution of the heritability; 2 Probability of the heritability estimate being greater than 0.10; 3 Highest posterior density interval at 95% of probability; 4 Body weight deviation from the expected growth curve of non-vaccinated pigs at 28 days post-vaccination (DPV); 5 Ratio between ∆BW and the expected body weight at 28 DPV given the growth curve of control pigs; 6 Haptoglobin increment at 4 DPV; 7 Ratio between ∆HP and the basal level of haptoglobin.
Altogether, we propose ∆BW and ∆HP as novel resilience indicators in growing pigs. The suggested indicators are easy to measure, genetically controlled and show substantial variability between animals. Thus, they may be improved through selective breeding. This approach may be applied to quantify resilience in other species using different infectious and non-infectious challenges. Moreover, genomic studies on resilient and susceptible animals can help in elucidating the molecular basis of the resilient response.
This entry is adapted from 10.3390/ani11102970
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