Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems
Adapting the feed, the animal and the feeding techniques to improve the efficiency and sustainability of monogastric livestock production systems

WP2 New animal traits for innovative feeding and breeding strategies

WP leader: Alfons Jansman (WUR)
Involved partners: DLO, INRA, UNEW, UdL, IRTA, AU, CAU , COBB, Claitec, IFIP, Topigs 

Objectives

WP2 aims to explore and identify new animal traits directly or indirectly related to individual variation in the animal’s response to feed and overall feed efficiency under different environmental conditions. The WP will focus on:

  • between-animal variation in voluntary feed intake and feed intake behaviour and its consequences on feed efficiency;
  • nutrient digestibility with emphasis on the intermediary role of symbiotic intestinal microbiota;
  • nutrient metabolism as affected by nutrient and ingredient supply, feeding strategy, environmental conditions and genotypic differences within and between populations of animals;
  • the value of behavioural traits (i.e., physical activity, group behaviour and feeding behaviour patterns) on feed efficiency.

The new and refined traits will be used for modelling the response of animals to the nutrient supply and environmental conditions (WP3), for further developing the concept of precision feeding (WP4) and for the development of future breeding strategies (WP5) with increasing emphasis on breeding feed-efficient production animals in a variety of production and feeding practices.

Approach

WP2 will use and refine existing data and samples available by the partners from national research programmes for the identification of new traits and integrative responses. In addition, animal trials will be performed focussing on the response of individual animals in terms of feed intake and behaviour, body weight gain, nutrient digestibility and gut health. We will explore the role of intestinal microbiota, and assess variation in nutrient metabolism as affected by nutrient and ingredient supply, feeding strategy, environmental conditions and genotypic differences within and between populations of animals. Specific attention will be given to metabolomics as a tool to identify new traits. New and state-of-the-art techniques will be used for the phenotypic description of the animal responses and for genotyping individual animals among and within animal lines. The identification of new traits will take place by measuring phenotypes in a variety of (defined) animal populations, including selected breeds and lines and defined phenotypes and genotypes, some of which will be subject to different dietary treatments and feeding strategies. WP2 has strong links with WP1, WP3, WP4 and WP5 in terms of delivery and receipt of data, samples and provision of new animal traits for use in optimised precision feeding and breeding strategies.

Tasks

  • Task 2.1: Individual feed intake and feeding behaviour in broilers and rabbits - New phenotypes to improve feed efficiency (M3 – M36)
  • Task 2.2: New traits and technologies for measuring and improving digestive efficiency and gut health in pigs, poultry and rabbits (M1 – M42)
  • Task 2.3. Nutrient metabolism related traits to improve feed efficiency (M3 – M36)
  • Task 2.4. Behaviour and welfare related traits influencing feed efficiency (M12 – M54)
  • Task 2.5: Metabolomics to identify new traits for improvement of feed efficiency (M10-M48)