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PhD, Norwegian University of Life Sciences


The European pig industry is heavily dependent on imported feed ingredients, especially soybean meal (SBM) as a protein source in commercial diets. Increased and more efficient use of local protein sources, such as rapeseed (RS), could improve the sustianibility and self-sufficiency of this sector. However, the use of RS co-products in pig diets can be associated with reduced nutrient utilization and performance. This has been attributed to the high fiber content and the presence of several antinutritional factors in RS, such as glucosinolates. Improvements in feed efficiency (FE) are crucial for a more economically and enviromentally sustainable pork production. The capacity of the pigs to digest and metabolize the nutrients and the energy in the diet is a major factor contributing to variation in FE. My research aims at providing knowledge about the effects of replacing SBM with RS co-products on nutrient and energy digestibility, energy metabolism, nitrogen retention, and subsequent FE. Also, by using different techniques such as histology, immunohistochemistry, enzyme activity assays, metagenomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics, we aim at identifying some of the underlying biological mechanisms associated with variation in the parameters mentioned before, associated with FE. The idea is to use the identified biological markers (associated with FE) in future experiments with larger number of animals that will be genotyped in order to identify pigs that are genetically superior/robust towards RS diets.


A review of feed efficiency in swine: biology and application.

Abstract: Feed efficiency represents the cumulative efficiency with which the pig utilizes dietary nutrients for maintenance, lean gain and lipid accretion. It is closely linked with energy metabolism, as the oxidation of carbon-containing components in the feed drive all metabolic processes. While much is known about nutrient utilization and tissue metabolism, blending these subjects into a discussion on feed efficiency has proven to be difficult. For example, while increasing dietary energy concentration will almost certainly increase feed efficiency, the correlation between dietary energy concentration and feed efficiency is surprisingly low. This is likely due to the plethora of non-dietary factors that impact feed efficiency, such as the environment and health as well as individual variation in maintenance requirements, body composition and body weight. Nonetheless, a deeper understanding of feed efficiency is critical at many levels. To individual farms, it impacts profitability. To the pork industry, it represents its competitive position against other protein sources. To food economists, it means less demand on global feed resources. There are environmental and other societal implications as well. Interestingly, feed efficiency is not always reported simply as a ratio of body weight gain to feed consumed. This review will explain why this arithmetic calculation, as simple as it initially seems, and as universally applied as it is in science and commerce, can often be misleading due to errors inherent in recording of both weight gain and feed intake. This review discusses the importance of feed efficiency, the manner in which it can be measured and reported, its basis in biology and approaches to its improvement. It concludes with a summary of findings and recommendations for future efforts.

Pub.: 08 Aug '15, Pinned: 27 Jul '17