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Title: Feed intake and feeding behavior traits for gestating sows recorded using electronic sow feeders
Contributor(s): Vargovic, Laura  (author)orcid ; Hermesch, Susanne  (author)orcid ; Athorn, Rebecca Z (author); Bunter, Kim L  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2021-01
Early Online Version: 2020-12-13
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1093/jas/skaa395
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Abstract: Electronic sow feeding (ESF) systems are used to control feed delivery to individual sows that are group-housed. Feeding levels for gestating sows are typically restricted to prevent excessive body weight gain. Any alteration of intake from the allocated feeding curve or unusual feeding behavior could indicate potential health issues. The objective of this study was to use data recorded by ESF to establish and characterize novel feed intake and feeding behavior traits and to estimate their heritabilities. Raw data were available from two farms with in-house manufactured (Farm A) or commercial (Farm B) ESF. The traits derived included feed intake, time spent eating, and rate of feed consumption, averaged across or within specific time periods of gestation. Additional phenotypes included average daily number of feeding events (AFE), along with the cumulative numbers of days where sows spent longer than 30 min in the ESF (ABOVE30), missed their daily intake (MISSF), or consumed below 1 kg of feed (BELOW1). The appetite of sows was represented by averages of score (APPETITE), a binary value for allocation eaten or not (DA_bin), or the standard deviation of the difference between feed intake and allocation (SDA-I). Gilts took longer to eat than sows (15.5 ± 0.13 vs. 14.1 ± 0.11 min/d) despite a lower feed allocation (2.13 ± 0.00 vs. 2.36 ± 0.01 kg/d). The lowest heritability estimates (below 0.10) occurred for feed intake traits, due to the restriction in feed allocation, although heritabilities were slightly higher for Farm B, with restriction in the eating time. The low heritability for AFE (0.05 ± 0.02) may have reflected the lack of recording of nonfeeding visits, but repeatability was moderate (0.26 ± 0.03, Farm A). Time-related traits were moderately to highly heritable and repeatable, demonstrating genetic variation between individuals in their feeding behaviors. Heritabilities for BELOW1 (Farm A: 0.16 ± 0.04 and Farm B: 0.15 ± 0.09) and SDA-I (Farm A: 0.17 ± 0.04 and Farm B: 0.10 ± 0.08) were similar across farms. In contrast, MISSF was moderately heritable in Farm A (0.19 ± 0.04) but lowly heritable in Farm B (0.05 ± 0.07). Heritabilities for DA_bin were dissimilar between farms (Farm A: 0.02 ± 0.02 and Farm B: 0.23 ± 0.10) despite similar incidence. Individual phenotypes constructed from ESF data could be useful for genetic evaluation purposes, but equivalent capabilities to generate phenotypes were not available for both ESF systems.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Animal Science, 99(1), p. 1-12
Publisher: American Society of Animal Science
Place of Publication: United States of America
ISSN: 1525-3163
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 070201 Animal Breeding
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 300305 Animal reproduction and breeding
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 830308 Pigs
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 100410 Pigs
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU)
Journal Article

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