Swine Reproductive Performance Improvement Research Funded at $650k, Might Solve World Hunger

With $650k in funding, improvement of the swine reproductive performance research has the potential to end world hunger.

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln reproductive physiologist is in charge of a research team that seeks to create boars that are genetically more tolerant of gestational heat stress because in utero heat stress of boars poses a serious threat to pork production, according to Nebraska Today.

Improving Swine Reproductive Performance

The threat of gestational heat stress, which affects about 6 million sows annually in the United States, is growing as a result of climate change.

In the US alone, there are 66 million piglets impacted annually, assuming an average litter size of 11 animals.

For many years, scientists have known that adult males who are directly exposed to summer heat stress have significantly lower sperm counts.

Furthermore, recent research shows that boar sperm production is negatively impacted by in-utero heat stress (IUHS), with counts dropping by about 24% and the ratio of abnormal sperm rising by about 42%.

According to Amy Desaulniers, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine as well as biomedical sciences, this lowers the quality of the semen in boars.

Desaulniers is also the principal investigator for the project.

Desaulniers further said that the developing male or boar is especially vulnerable to gestational hostility, which can impede the development of the fetal testis and increase the risk of infertility for the rest of his life.

For the swine industry, which depends almost entirely on artificial insemination, boar fertility is essential.

A typical boar produces an average of 8,398 offspring per year, compared to a sow’s 23 offspring annually.

Desaulniers noted that as a result, the boar drives genetic advancement in the herd and has the greatest cumulative effect on swine reproductive performance.

In-Utero Heat Stress

Desaulniers’ research team seeks to ascertain the physiological effects of IUHS on gamete production and endocrine function within the boar testis because scientists are unsure of the biological mechanisms underlying IUHS’s detrimental effect on the boar testis.

Then, the team will work to devise methods to increase boars’ tolerance for heat stress while they’re still developing.

She said that the overall objective is to test a novel IUHS mitigation strategy called genomic selection for tolerance to heat while also better understanding how IUHS affects the reproductive physiology of boars.

The reasoning behind this research is to increase our knowledge of the biological processes impacted by IUHS in the boar’s reproductive organs.

Also Read: Chinese Scientists Use A.I. for First Batch of Cloned Pigs 

Possible Solution to World Hunger

She added that the application of this newfound knowledge is anticipated to result in novel methods to improve boar gonadal function, including gamete production, making this research significant.

In the long run, these results will improve swine reproductive effectiveness, boar fertility, and the sustainability of pork production in the US.

Desaulniers said that pharmacological methods, novel genetic tests, or dietary modifications could all be solutions.

She added that raising pork productivity will help feed a growing global population and boost profits for Nebraskan and American producers.

The most popular meat consumed globally is pork, and by 2050, demand is anticipated to rise by 37%.

The research is supported by a three-year, $650,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the US Department of Agriculture, The Pig Site reports.

It was published in the journal Molecular Reproduction Development in December 2022.

Related Article: Hog Hotels: Vertical Pig Farming in China May Not be as Environmentally Friendly as It Sounds, Study Shows 

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