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J Anim Sci. 2007 Dec;85(12):3182-8. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

Genetic parameters for residual feed intake in growing pigs, with emphasis on genetic relationships with carcass and meat quality traits.

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  • 1INRA, UR337 Génétique Quantitative et Appliquée, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France.


Data were collected over the first 4 generations of a divergent selection experiment for residual feed intake of Large White pigs having ad libitum access to feed. This data set was used to obtain estimates of heritability for residual feed intake and genetic correlations (r(a)) between this trait and growth, carcass, and meat quality traits. Individual feed intake of group-housed animals was measured by single-space electronic feeders. Upward and downward selection lines were maintained contemporarily, with 6 boars and 35 to 40 sows per line and generation. Numbers of records were 793 for residual feed intake (RFI1) of boar candidates for selection issued from first-parity (P1) litters and tested over a fixed BW range (35 to 95 kg) and 657 for residual feed intake (RFI2) and growth, carcass, and meat quality traits of castrated males and females issued from second-parity (P2) litters and tested from 28 to 107 kg of BW. Variance and covariance components were estimated using REML methodology applied to a series of multitrait animal models, which always included the criterion for selection as 1 of the traits. Estimates of heritability for RFI1 and RFI2 were 0.14 +/- 0.03 and 0.24 +/- 0.03, respectively, whereas the estimate of r(a) between the 2 traits was 0.91 +/- 0.08. Estimates of r(a) indicated that selection for low residual feed intake has the potential to improve feed conversion ratio and reduce daily feed intake, with minimal correlated effect for ADG of P2 animals. Estimates of r(a) between RFI2 and body composition traits of P2 animals were positive for traits related to the amount of fat depots (r(a) = 0.44 +/- 0.16 for carcass backfat thickness) and negative for carcass lean meat content (r(a) = -0.55 +/- 0.14). There was a tendency for a negative genetic correlation between RFI2 and carcass dressing percent (r(a) = -0.36 +/- 0.21). Moreover, selection for low residual feed intake is expected, through lower ultimate pH and lighter color, to decrease pork quality (r(a) = 0.77 +/- 0.14 between RFI2 and a meat quality index intended to predict the ratio of the weight of ham after curing and cooking to the weight of defatted and boneless fresh ham).

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