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Breeding for disease resilience is more cost-effective, study suggests
The study highlights the cost benefits of breeding animals to be resilient against disease.
Scientists develop mathematical models to estimate the economic value of disease resilience.

Breeding animals to be resilient against disease would be more cost-effective than breeding based on production traits, new research suggests.

Findings published in Genetics Selection Evolution show that breeding for optimum disease resilience could be three times more profitable than that of breeding based on production traits in disease-free conditions. 

Professor Andrea Doeschl-Wilson from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, which led the study, said: “Managing infectious disease continues to place a heavy toll on livestock producers and the animals they raise. By applying new statistical methods to big data from genomic and automated recording technologies, we can breed livestock that are more resilient to infection.”

In the study, researchers used data from a previous study of piglets with Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS) to develop mathematical models to estimate the economic value of disease resilience. 

According to their calculations, the value of selective breeding based on resistance and tolerance during infectious conditions was more than three times that of breeding based on production traits in disease-free conditions, demonstrating the high economic value of disease resilience. 

The team found that data or technologies that determine an animal’s response to infection based on its genes could be used to mitigate trade-offs between traits that contribute to resilience. 

They suggest that monitoring the level of infection in an animal over time, as well as tracking production traits, could be used to estimate the influence of resistance and tolerance on its response to infection.


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MSD Animal Health announces three new research bursaries

News Story 1
 MSD Animal Health has announced three new research bursaries for veterinary surgeons in the areas of swine, poultry and aquaculture. The bursaries, worth up to £4,000, add to MSD's existing bursaries in ruminant and companion animal research.

Projects are expected to be completed within one to two years, and the proposals will be judged by university academics to ensure that assessment remains independent. Full project design and application guidelines, including the specific disease/subject areas, can be found on MSD Animal Health's website

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VMD and VPS announce joint open information day

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) have announced a joint open information day covering topics such as veterinary medicines regulations, antimicrobial resistance, scientific advice and novel therapies.

Taking place on Wednesday 18 November, the virtual event will take the form of a series of pre-recorded webinars and a 'Slido' Q&A session. Links to the webinars and full instructions on how to use Slido will be available on on 18 November. To join the mailing list for the event, email