Austin Putz is a PhD student researching disease resistance in swine. Austin works directly with several Canadian swine producers where they take healthy pigs and first put them into a clean environment. Here they can take samples for early predictors of disease resilience. After early sampling in a clean environment, pigs are sent to a disease challenge facility. In their study, they introduce sick pigs from the commercial industry to challenge each group with different diseases over time. The end goal is to find traits such as early immune response that could be used in the nucleus for selection. For example, piglets with a high antibody count early in the nursery may be less likely to be treated during the challenge. This study is done to help reduce antibiotic use and improve animal welfare.
Austin grew up in South Central Iowa on a very diversified farm where they raised beef cattle, horses, and show pigs. He had nine sows that he started to breed for show stock and this was his beginning interest in genetics. Animal experience led to going to Iowa State University pursuing a Pre-Vet degree until he found his passion in swine, statistics and genetics. After Graduating ISU in the spring on 2013, he then pursued a master’s degree at North Carolina State. He decided to attend graduate school to gain a skill set that employers are looking for, along with the passion that he has for the industry and making a difference with the research that he is doing. Along Austin’s journey, he has had several mentors that have heavily influenced him. Jack Dekkers is his current advisor for his PhD.