Advancing Swine Health

Through interdisciplinary, problem-focused research, the Universty of Saskatchewan Swine Health group develops solutions regarding disease etiology and pathophysiology, immunology, nutrition to diagnostics. We strive to apply a hollistic approach to improve animal welfare and production. You can find more about who we are and what we do below.

Graduate Student Opportunity

The Swine Medicine Group is seeking a pro-active, highly motivated individual interested in pursuing graduate studies (Master of Science; MSc) in the disciplines of swine production medicine, infectious diseases and immunology.

More information can be found here.

Undergraduate/Graduate student opportunity

The Swine Medicine Group is seeking a pro-active, highly motivated individual interested in pursuing an period of research at the undergraduate or graduate levels under the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program 2018-2019 call ( in the disciplines of swine production medicine, infectious diseases and immunology. 

More information can be found here

Current Research Themes

Infection with PRRSV causes reproductive failure in pregnant females. While in early gestation the virus can cause embryonic death, the clinical manifestation of PRRSV mainly occurs in late gestation and is characterized by abortions, early farrowings, fetal death and the birth of weak, congenitally infected piglets, resulting in elevated preweaning mortality. Our research seeks to clarify the mechanisms of disease by PRRSV associated with reproductive failure.

The Brachyspira family of bacteria contains both disease causing and apparently harmless species, and both types can colonize pigs. Our research focuses on bacterial ecology, antimicrobial susceptibility and development and improvement of preventive and diagnostic methods.

Mucosal vaccine development is difficult as the immune system is primed to respond with tolerance instead of immunity to antigens encountered at the mucosa. Delivery of mucosal vaccines is also complicated by the need to restrain animals in order to administer the vaccine at oral, nasal or vaginal sites. While the lower reproductive tract contains commensal bacteria and maintains a degree of tolerance, the upper uterus is maintained in a nearly sterile and immunogenic state. We are studying intrauterine immunization to protect sows/gilts and their offspring against parvovirus without negatively affecting sperm function or fertility. The vaccine would be administered during artificial insemination when the animal is naturally immobilized by the lordosis response so it is completely safe to administer.

Under construction.

While influenza A viruses are found in pigs around the world, there are genetic and antigenic strains unique to western Canada. The main objective of the surveillance projects is to determine the FluA strain types in pigs within Western Canada, so that producers, veterinarians and flu experts can develop more effective control strategies and make informed decisions. The long-term goals of this research are to understand the impact of the genetic, epidemiological and environmental factors that drive influenza virus evolution and the biological consequences of these changes in one of its natural hosts.

Research to understand how existing and developing husbandry practices influence the welfare of farmed swine is essential to ensure agricultural practices that are sustainable. The objective of the swine welfare research program is to contribute scientific information to inform policy and debate, and to develop lasting solutions to the animal welfare challenges of farming swine. 

A broad range of topics are covered under this program, researching immediate priority issues and future challenges and opportunities. Current projects include: gestation sow management; exploring methods to enhance the welfare and reproductive performance of sows housed in stalls and group gestation systems, the welfare of piglets transported post-weaning, management of castration pain, and promotion of positive welfare states

About us

John Harding  Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Volker Gerdts VIDO
Susan Detmer  Veterinary Pathology
Andrew van Kessel  Animal Science
Yolande Seddon Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Matheus Costa Utrecht University / Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Janet Hill Veterinary Microbiology
Heather Wilson VIDO
Dan MacPhee Veterinary Biomedical Sciences
Yanyun Huang Prairie Diagnostic Services