Recent outbreaks have put research on swine diseases—and prevention—in the spotlight. Michaela Trudeau studies swine nutrition, with her focus surrounding the survival of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) in animal feed and feed ingredients.
PEDV has caused devastating losses in the United States swine industry since its arrival in 2013. The virus has a very high mortality in piglets and is a huge concern to farmers.
“One of the ways the virus is thought to enter pig barns is through contaminated feed,” she says. “This is where my research comes into play. I focus on how long the virus survives in different feeds and what can be done to limit its survival and make the feed safe for the farms. This includes heating the feed or using different feed additives to reduce virus survival.”
Trudeau has always been interested in the food-animal industry. “It is especially fascinating to me how animals are raised and what can be done to maximize production without making sacrifices in animal welfare,” she says. “Animal health and nutrition is a huge portion of this, and the interaction between the two is my primary area of interest. A happy, healthy animal with a nutritious diet will produce the most, but if one of these components is compromised, the production will go down. My research does a good job taking both of these areas into consideration.”