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CABI Book Chapter

Nutrient digestion and utilization in farm animals: modelling approaches.

Book cover for Nutrient digestion and utilization in farm animals: modelling approaches.

Description

This book contains 34 chapters on nutrition physiology and presents scientific research in modelling nutrient digestion and utilization in domestic animals, including cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and fishes. It is divided into 6 parts that cover fermentation, absorption and passage; growth and development; mineral metabolism; methodology and model development; environmental impacts and animal prod...

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Chapter 21 (Page no: 229)

Modelling the effects of environmental stressors on the performance of growing pigs: from individuals to populations.

A simulation model that predicts the performance of a population of growing pigs when raised under given dietary, physical and social environmental conditions has been constructed. The aim was to investigate through the model the impact of between-animal variation on the response of a population to environmental stressors. Variation was generated in initial state, growth potential and ability to cope when exposed to social 'stressors' (AB). Variation in initial state is described by initial body weight (BW0), from which the chemical composition of the pig is calculated. Variation in potential is described by creating variation in the genetic growth descriptors. Variation in response to AB exists between genotypes, where it has been suggested that leaner, more modern genotype pigs tend to be less able to cope. It is expected that within a population or group the social environment (i.e. group composition and social hierarchy) also affects an individual's ability to cope. Consequently, it was assumed in the model that there is a negative correlation between BW0 and AB, i.e. bigger pigs are better able to cope when socially stressed. Model predictions showed that whether or not the mean population response is the same as the 'average' individual response can be influenced by the way a given social stressor constrains performance. If all pigs are affected at the same stressor intensity, e.g. all pigs in a group are either mixed or not, then the predicted average individual and mean population responses will be the same. If, however, the intensity of stressor at which performance becomes limiting is able to differ between individuals, such as space allowance (SPA) or temperature, then differences between the individual and mean population responses will be predicted. Variation in the growth response of a population was determined to a greater extent by variation in AB and BW0 than by variation in growth potential alone, when pigs were housed in simulated conditions likely to be encountered in commercial environments. Consequently, decreasing variation in BW0 will lead to a more homogeneous population at slaughter, which may affect the economical efficiency of an enterprise, and improving pigs' ability to cope may be a better way of improving pig performance than selecting for increased potential per se.

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Chapter details

  • Author Affiliation
  • Animal Nutrition and Health Department, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK.
  • Year of Publication
  • 2006
  • ISBN
  • 9781845930059
  • Record Number
  • 20063093906