Genetic parameters for two selection criteria for feed efficiency in rabbits

Abstract : Improvement of feed efficiency can be achieved by genetic selection directly on feed to BW gain ratio or for alternative traits. In the present study, 2 different traits were explored in the growing rabbit and their heritability and genetic correlations with traits recorded between weaning (30 d) and 63 d of age: i) residual feed intake (RFI), to select animals having low ad libitum feed intake independently from their production level, and ii) ADG under restricted feeding (ADGR; with a restriction level of 80% compared with ad libitum feeding of a control group), to select animals having high growth rate despite limited feed intake. To study these traits, 2 rabbit lines were established named i) ConsoResidual line and ii) ADGrestrict line. Under ad libitum or restricted feeding, it comes to select animals that waste less energy for maintenance, metabolism, or activity and retain more for tissue deposition. The selection process was similar in both lines. Data comprised records from generations 0 to 6 for about 1,800 rabbits per line measured for their BW at weaning and 63 d of age (BW63) and their individual feed consumption. Under ad libitum feeding, the heritability estimates were moderate for RFI (0.16 ± 0.05), ADG (0.19 ± 0.05), and feed conversion ratio (FCR; 0.22 ± 0.05). The high genetic correlation estimated between RFI and FCR (0.96 ± 0.03) was in accordance with the literature. The genetic correlation between RFI and ADG traits was not significant. Thus, selection for low RFI with ad libitum feeding was confirmed as a potential trait to improve FCR and reduce feed intake, with little effect on ADG. To our knowledge, there is no previous selection experiment on growing rabbits with restricted feeding. Our heritability estimates for ADGR and feed conversion ratio under restricted feeding (FCRR) were moderate (0.22 ± 0.06 and 0.23 ± 0.07, respectively) and had very high negative genetic correlation. Both selection criteria were found with high and favorable genetic correlations with feed efficiency recorded under each feeding regimen. However, their different genetic correlations with BW at weaning and at 63 d of age (BW63R; respectively, 0.85 and 0.17 for RFI and -0.25 and 0.81 for ADGR) suggested different impacts on major production traits that need further analyses to decipher the relative advantages of the 2 selection criteria, together with interactions between genotypes and feeding regimen.
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Laurence Drouilhet, Hélène Gilbert, Elodie Balmisse, Julien Ruesche, Aurelie Tircazes, et al.. Genetic parameters for two selection criteria for feed efficiency in rabbits. Journal of Animal Science, American Society of Animal Science, 2013, 91 (7), pp.3121-3128. ⟨10.2527/jas.2012-6176⟩. ⟨hal-01000793⟩



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