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J Anim Sci. 2013 Mar;91(3):1162-75. doi: 10.2527/jas.2012-5689. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Effect of thermal heat stress on energy utilization in two lines of pigs divergently selected for residual feed intake.

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INRA, UR143, Unité de Recherches Zootechniques, F-97170 Petit Bourg, France.


Castrated males from 2 lines of purebred French Large White obtained from a divergent selection experiment for their residual feed intake (RFI) over 7 generations were measured for their energy utilization during thermal acclimation to increased ambient temperature. The RFI(+) line consumed more feed than predicted from its performance, whereas the RFI- line consumed less feed. Each pig was exposed to 24°C for 7 d (P0) and thereafter to a constant temperature of 32°C for 3 consecutive periods of 7 d (P1, P2, P3). Feed intake, feeding behavior parameters, digestibility, components of heat production (HP; measured by indirect calorimetry in respiration chambers), and energy, nitrogen, fat, and water balance were measured in pigs offered feed and water ad libitum and individually housed in respiratory chambers. Two identical respiratory chambers were simultaneously used, and 5 pigs of each line were measured successively. Whatever the trait, the interaction between line and period was not significant (P > 0.10). On average, ADFI was greater in the RFI+ than in the RFI- line (1,945 vs. 1,639 g/d; P = 0.051) in relation to an increase of the mean size of each feeding bout (128 vs. 82 g/visit; P < 0.001). There was no line effect on nutrient and energy digestibility. Total HP tended to be greater in RFI+ than in RFI- lines (1,279 vs. 1,137 kJ·kg BW-0.60·d-1; P = 0.065), which tended to retain more energy (968 vs. 798 kJ·kg BW-0.60·d-1; P = 0.050). The sensible heat loss was greater in RFI+ compared with the RFI- line (644 vs. 560 kJ·kg BW-0.60·d-1; P = 0.020). The RFI+ pigs consumed more water (+981 vs. 657 g·kg BW-0.60·d-1; P = 0.085) and produced more urine (589 vs. 292 g·kg BW-0.60·d-1; P < 0.001) than RFI- pigs, whereas water evaporation was similar for both lines. On average, ME intake and HP declined by about 38% and 20%, respectively, from P0 to P1 (P < 0.001). In contrast to ME intake, HP gradually decreased (P < 0.05) from P1 to P3 in connection with a reduction of the activity related HP. The evaporative heat loss represented 30% on the total heat loss on P0, and this proportion significantly increased on P1 (61%; P < 0.001) and remained constant thereafter. In conclusion, our results suggest that thermal heat acclimation in pigs is mainly related to a biphasic reduction of HP rather than a change in the ability of losing heat, and it did not significantly differ between RFI+ and RFI- lines despite a decreased HP in the latter ones.

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