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Animal. 2011 Aug;5(9):1344-53. doi: 10.1017/S175173111100036X.

Effects of ad libitum and restricted feeding on early production performance and body composition of Yorkshire pigs selected for reduced residual feed intake.

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


Residual feed intake (RFI), defined as the difference between observed and expected feed intake based on growth and backfat, has been used to investigate genetic variation in feed efficiency in cattle, poultry and pigs. However, little is known about the biological basis of differences in RFI in pigs. To this end, the objective of this study was to evaluate the fifth generation of a line of pigs selected for reduced RFI against a randomly selected Control line for performance, carcass and chemical carcass composition and overall efficiency. Here, emphasis was on the early grower phase. A total of 100 barrows, 50 from each line, were paired by age and weight (22.6 ± 3.9 kg) and randomly assigned to one of four feeding treatments in 11 replicates: ad libitum (Ad), 75% of Ad (Ad75), 55% of Ad (Ad55) and weight stasis (WS), which involved weekly adjustments in intake to keep body weight (BW) constant for each pig. Pigs were individually penned (group housing was used for selection) and were on treatment for 6 weeks. Initial BW did not significantly differ between the lines (P > 0.17). Under Ad feeding, the low RFI pigs consumed 8% less feed compared with Control line pigs (P < 0.06), had less carcass fat (P < 0.05), but with no significant difference in growth rate (P > 0.85). Under restricted feeding, low RFI pigs under the Ad75 treatment had a greater rate of gain while consuming the same amount of feed as Control pigs. Despite the greater gain, no significant line differences in carcass composition or carcass traits were observed. For the WS treatment, low RFI pigs had similar BW (P > 0.37) with no significant difference in feed consumption (P > 0.32). Overall, selection for reduced RFI has decreased feed intake, with limited differences in growth rate but reduced carcass fat, as seen under Ad feeding. Collectively, results indicate that the effects of selection for low RFI are evident during the early grower stage, which allows for greater savings to the producer.

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