Is it useful to define residual feed intake as a trait in animal breeding programs?
J. H. J. van der Werf
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
44(5) 405 - 409
Published: 04 June 2004
Residual feed intake is a linear function of feed intake, production and maintenance of liveweight, and as such is an attractive characteristic to use to represent production efficiency. The phenotypic and genetic parameters of residual feed intake can be written as a function of its constituent traits. Moreover, selection indices containing the constituent traits are equivalent with an index that includes residual feed intake. Therefore, definition of the term residual feed intake may be useful to interpret variation in production efficiency, but it does not help in obtaining a better selection response than selection on constituent traits alone. In fact, multiple trait genetic evaluation of constituent traits rather than residual feed intake is likely to be more accurate as this more appropriately accommodates different models for the constituent traits and missing data. For residual feed intake to reflect true biological efficiency in growing animals, it is important that feed intake and liveweight are accurately measured. Accounting for growth and body composition would significantly help in revealing between-animal variation in feed utilisation. Random regression models can be helpful in indicating variation in feed efficiency over the growth trajectory.
Full text doi:10.1071/EA02105
© CSIRO 2004