Program 2 – Herd health management

World Antibiotic Awareness Week  (Nov 16-22)

Pork CRC Program 2, ‘Herd Health Management’, aims to not only enhance pig health, but also reduce antibiotic use. The new diagnostics and other strategies our researchers and associates have developed will potentially reduce antimicrobial use and resistance across the pork production sector.  We’re working closely with other stakeholders in this space and have, for example, established a relationship with Anatara Life Sciences to explore their technology (Detach) against E. coli disease and piglet scour challenges. Pork CRC applauds the efforts of the World Organisation for Animal Health in raising awareness by promoting the 1st World Antibiotic Awareness Week  (Nov 16-22). Click here for more:

Program Leader : Dr Pat Mitchell (APL)

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Research to develop new and novel diagnostic tools to monitor enteric and respiratory pathogen loads in production units and better characterisation and understanding of the virulence genes which cause disease. These technologies and information will enable the development of new strategies which will include new quantitative genetic methodology and the strategic use of genomics to identify and develop robust genetic lines more resilient to environmental constraints, including disease. The aim of the program is to enhance animal health, while reducing routine antibiotic use in commercial pork production.

Research covers three core areas:

Subprogram 2A: Novel Disease Diagnostics

Subprogram Leader : Dr Pat Mitchell (APL)

Novel Disease Diagnostics involving the refinement of quantitative PCR and other diagnostic tools developed for enteric pathogens and the development of PCR analysis of respiratory pathogen loads. Non-specific measures can be used to identify acute changes in herd health in real time and in combination with these, new cost-effective diagnostics will be developed for diseases such as Rotavirus and Corona virus. Conventional diagnostics which fail to separate causal and non causal subtypes in enteric organisms such as E.coli and Salmonella also require improvement

Subprogram 2B: Healthy, Robust Pig Genotypes

Sub Program Leader : Dr Pat Mitchell (APL)

Healthy, Robust Pig Genotypes arising from selection strategies that focus on welfare and health status of highly productive pigs across multiple commercial grow-out systems with varying environmental stressors, with the development of new selection criteria, statistical methodology and molecular, genetic strategies to improve disease resilience and robustness in current Australian genotypes. Collaborative research programs with Iowa State University and INRA (through AGBU) both of whom have unique selection lines (for immune responsiveness and disease tolerance) and expertise in strategic genomics will be integral in this program.

Subprogram 2C: Replacement of Antibiotics with Effective Integrated Health Strategies


Sub Program Leader : Dr Eric Thornton (Amulet)

Replacement of Antibiotics with Effective Integrated Health Strategies to allow reduction in expenditure on therapeutics while maintaining or enhancing production efficiency. This approach also reduces concerns for human health associated with antibiotic use in livestock production. Research results from Subprogram 2A will be utilised to produce eco-suppressive agents, which may include nutrients (nutriceuticals) such as organic acids, beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli, and gene based vaccines, probiotics, and bacteriophages, all of which are designed to alter the ecology of the gut or respiratory microbial populations, thus suppressing pathogens. New vaccine technology and integrated management systems will be developed.

Research and Final Reports

View the Research and Final Reports,