Biomarkers as management tools for industries in the pork production chain

Pas, M.F.W. te; Hoekman, A.J.W.; Smits, M.A.


In livestock production, traits such as meat quantity and quality are mainly determined by biological processes. Knowing the biological background of traits makes it possible to identify relevant processes, genes or molecules that may be used as indicators to rapidly and easily detect the status and phase of biological processes. Such indicators are called biomarkers. Thus biomarkers provide information about the status and phase of biological processes underlying particular traits. This information can be used to modulate these processes and thereby optimize the economic value of these traits. To produce products from livestock, pork industries are organized in a production chain – from the breeding industry to the retail industry. Industries in a chain interact with each other to optimize economic value. (Automated) detection of biomarkers could activate processes throughout the chain that can be robotized and computerized, thereby creating economic benefit for all participants in the chain. Biomarkers may be used on individual animals and on pooled samples representing a whole herd for herd management. Here we describe how biomarkers can be developed and how they may be used to enhance value for the pork production chain industries.