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J Anim Sci. 2008 Feb;86(2):287-98. Epub 2007 Nov 12.

Selection response and genetic parameters for residual feed intake in Yorkshire swine.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of feed efficiency defined as the difference between the observed feed intake and that predicted from the average requirements for growth and maintenance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the response in a selection experiment consisting of a line selected for low RFI and a random control line and to estimate the genetic parameters for RFI and related production and carcass traits. Beginning with random allocation of purebred Yorkshire littermates, in each generation, electronically measured ADFI, ADG, and ultrasound backfat (BF) were evaluated during a approximately 40- to approximately 115-kg of BW test period on approximately 90 boars from first parity and approximately 90 gilts from second parity sows of the low RFI line. After evaluation of first parity boars, approximately 12 boars and approximately 70 gilts from the low RFI line were selected to produce approximately 50 litters for the next generation. Approximately 30 control line litters were produced by random selection and mating. Selection was on EBV for RFI from an animal model analysis of ADFI, with on-test group and sex (fixed), pen within group and litter (random), and covariates for interactions of on- and off-test BW, on-test age, ADG, and BF with generations. The RFI explained 34% of phenotypic variation in ADFI. After 4 generations of selection, estimates of heritability for RFI, ADFI, ADG, feed efficiency (FE, which is the reciprocal of the feed conversion ratio and equals ADG/ ADFI), and ultrasound-predicted BF, LM area (LMA), and intramuscular fat (IMF) were 0.29, 0.51, 0.42, 0.17, 0.68, 0.57, and 0.28, respectively; predicted responses based on average EBV in the low RFI line were -114, -202, and -39 g/d for RFI (= 0.9 phenotypic SD), ADFI (0.9 SD), and ADG (0.4 SD), respectively, and 1.56% for FE (0.5 SD), -0.37 mm for BF (0.1 SD), 0.35 cm(2) for LMA (0.1 SD), and -0.10% for IMF (0.3 SD). Direct phenotypic comparison of the low RFI and control lines based on 92 low RFI and 76 control gilts from the second parity of generation 4 showed that selection had significantly decreased RFI by 96 g/d (P = 0.002) and ADFI by 165 g/d (P < 0.0001). The low RFI line also had 33 g/d lower ADG (P = 0.022), 1.36% greater FE (P = 0.09), and 1.99 mm less BF (P = 0.013). There was not a significant difference in LMA and other carcass traits, including subjective marbling score, despite a large observed difference in ultrasound-predicted IMF (-1.05% with P < 0.0001). In conclusion, RFI is a heritable trait, and selection for low RFI has significantly decreased the feed required for a given rate of growth and backfat.

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