UK researchers are working on an international project to explore how blue ear pig disease can be tackled through selective breeding.

The University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute is working with Iowa State University on the study, which will look at whether some pigs have a genetic makeup that makes them less likely to become sick after infection.

The findings could help breed pigs that are less likely to succumb to blue ear - or porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome as it is also known.

The economic impact of blue ear on European pig herds has not been quantified but it has been estimated to cost the US industry $600m a year.