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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 11;8(9):e74153. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074153. eCollection 2013.

Energy reallocation to breeding performance through improved nest building in laboratory mice.

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Department of Animal Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, United States of America ; Charles River, Wilmington, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Mice are housed at temperatures (20-26 °C) that increase their basal metabolic rates and impose high energy demands to maintain core temperatures. Therefore, energy must be reallocated from other biological processes to increase heat production to offset heat loss. Supplying laboratory mice with nesting material may provide sufficient insulation to reduce heat loss and improve both feed conversion and breeding performance. Naïve C57BL/6, BALB/c, and CD-1 breeding pairs were provided with bedding alone, or bedding supplemented with either 8 g of Enviro-Dri, 8 g of Nestlets, for 6 months. Mice provided with either nesting material built more dome-like nests than controls. Nesting material improved feed efficiency per pup weaned as well as pup weaning weight. The breeding index (pups weaned/dam/week) was higher when either nesting material was provided. Thus, the sparing of energy for thermoregulation of mice given additional nesting material may have been responsible for the improved breeding and growth of offspring.

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