NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare
(306) 966-7151
WCVM, UofS, 52 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, SK

Genetics of retroactive measures of stress response and relationship with disease resilience in nursery and grow-finish pigs

Research Team:

  • Research Technician: Hayder Al-Shanoon, University of Saskatchewan
  • Lab Technician: Heidi Reiss, University of Saskatchewan
  • Summer Student: Cheng-Yi (Josephine) Lee
  • Supervisor: Dr. Yolande Seddon
  • Principle Investigator: Jack Dekkers, Iowa State University
  • Project Members: David Janz, University of Saskatchewan; Michael Dyck, University of Alberta; John Harding, University of Saskatchewan; Graham Plastow, University of Alberta; Christopher Tuggle, Iowa State University. 

Project Timeline:

  • January 2021 – December 2023

Funding Agency:


Resilience is defined as the ability of an animal to perform and thrive despite exposure to stressors (infectious and/or non-infectious) and has been shown to have an important genetic component. This research evaluates response to stress in a retrospective manner through measurement of hormones (cortisol and DHEA) in swine hair. The goal is to determine if stress hormones measured in hair can be an indicator of disease resilience, offering an approach to measure resilience in pigs on commercial farms and in nucleus herds.

Project Objectives:

  • To evaluate the genetic basis, as well as the phenotypic and genetic relationships of differences in retrospective measures of stress response in healthy nursery pigs and disease-challenged grow-finish pigs with performance and disease resilience.

Value of this research:

This research will determine if hormones measured in hair can be used to identify animals with increased general resilience. Obtaining hair samples is a simple non-invasive method to collect physiological information from large numbers of animals. Identifying animals with increased resilience is one approach to help improve animal health, performance and welfare.

Links to results:

Results are expected to be ready for dissemination in 2024.