1st Page



This article in

  1. Vol. 86 No. 2, p. 287-298
    Received: July 03, 2007
    Accepted: Oct 31, 2007
    Published: December 5, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):


Selection response and genetic parameters for residual feed intake in Yorkshire swine1

  1. W. Cai*,
  2. D. S. Casey and
  3. J. C. M. Dekkers*2
  1. Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames 50011; and
    Pig Improvement Company, Hendersonville, TN 37075


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 ∼40- to ∼115-kg of BW test period on ∼90 boars from first parity and ∼90 gilts from second parity sows of the low RFI line. After evaluation of first parity boars, ∼12 boars and ∼70 gilts from the low RFI line were selected to produce ∼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 cm2 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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