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DNA study offers fresh insights into pig muscle growth
The findings could be used to predict muscle growth in developing pigs.
Researchers hope their findings will help to support breeding selection programmes.

New research revealing insights into pig muscle development could lead to new tools to inform breeding selection.

The findings are published in G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics by a team from the Roslin Institute and the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health.

In the study, researchers analysed DNA in frozen tissue samples from muscle in piglets at various stages of development. Through this, they were able to pinpoint regions of DNA that control activity in genes linked to muscle growth and study activity in these genes. 

The scientists noted variations in regions of DNA between small and large piglets, suggesting a difference in how DNA is regulated, which subsequently governs muscle growth between large and small piglets. 

It is hoped the findings could help to predict muscle growth in developing pigs, to produce litters with fewer very small piglets. The improved knowledge could also underpin research into other areas of pigs' development, health and welfare.

Looking ahead, the team hopes to identify variations in the genetic code of pigs associated with growth and better understand how these differences regulate the activity of genes involved in muscle development to inform pig breeding programmes.

They also hope to apply their method of analysing frozen tissue to investigate how the genetic code of livestock controls their characteristics. The use of frozen tissues samples can also help to limit the number of animals used for research. 

Dr Emily Clark, from the Roslin Institute, explains: “Pigs are widely farmed and it is important that we understand their biology, including detailed knowledge of their genetic code. Our findings help to improve understanding of the pig genome and will support further research to aid breeding selection programmes.”

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VET Festival returns for 2022

News Story 1
 VET Festival, the unique CPD opportunity, is returning for 2022, running from 20 to 21 May.

The outdoor event, held at Loseley Park in Guildford, will feature 17 education streams, with a dedicated stream covering veterinary wellness, leadership and management topics. The festival will feature veterinary speakers from around the world, with the opportunity to collect 14 hours of CPD across the two-day event.

Alongside veterinary education, VET Festival will also offer wellbeing activities such as yoga and mindfulness activities, with the popular VETFest Live Party Night making a return for 2022.

Tickets available here.  

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News Shorts
Free webinar on rearing better heifers

A free webinar is being held by Volac to help dairy farmers rear better heifers. Marking the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board's (AHDB) 'Great British Calf Week', the webinar is scheduled to take place at 12.15pm - 1.45pm on Thursday 3 February 2022.

Focusing on the management input needed to produce better heifers, the webinar will explore practical tips for better calf rearing, sustainable growth through effective calf nutrition, and the importance of sustainable ingredients in calf milk formulas.

Anyone interested in attending can register here.