Body composition and feed intake of reproducing and growing mice divergently selected for heat loss

A. S. Bhatnagar, M. K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Changes in maintenance energy requirements and in feed efficiency have been achieved by divergent selection for heat loss in mice in 3 replicates, creating high heat loss, high maintenance (MH) and low heat loss, low maintenance (ML) lines and an unselected control (MC). However, feed intake has mainly been measured in mature animals and not during growth or reproduction. Additionally, there is evidence that reducing maintenance energy will increase fat content, an undesirable result. To evaluate if selection has altered body composition and lifecycle feed intake, mating pairs were continuously mated and maintained for up to 1 yr unless culled. Offspring pairs were sampled from each line at each parity and maintained from 21 to 49 d of age. Feed intake was recorded for mating pairs throughout the year and on offspring pairs. Body weight was recorded on all animals at culling as well as percent fat, total fat, and total lean, measured by dual X-ray densitometry. Average daily gain was also recorded for offspring. Energy partitioning was achieved using 2 approaches: Approach I regressed energy intake of the pair on sum of daily metabolic weight and total gain to obtain maintenance (bm) and growth (bg) coefficients for each line, replicate, feeding period, and sex (offspring pairs only); Approach II calculated bm for each pair assuming constant energy values for lean and fat gain. Energy coefficients and body composition traits were evaluated for effect of selection (MH vs. ML) and asymmetry of selection ([MH + ML]/2 vs. MC). Both MC mating and offspring pairs tended to have greater BW than the average of the selection lines (P < 0.08). Males of offspring pairs weighed more than females (P < 0.01), while females of mating pairs weighed more than males (P < 0.01). Line was insignificant (P > 0.15) for body composition traits. Using Approach I, MH mice had a greater bm than ML mice for mating pairs (P = 0.03) but not offspring pairs (P = 0.50). For Approach II, MH had a greater bm than ML mice for both mating (P = 0.01) and offspring pairs (P = 0.01). The effect of selection for heat loss on body composition was smaller than previously reported and unlikely to outweigh the benefit of reduced feed intake, which was shown to be maintained throughout an entire lifecycle that included reproducing animals. Additionally, the reduction in energy intake seems primarily due to reduced maintenance energy costs, validating the success of the selection procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1886-1894
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Body composition
  • Feed efficiency
  • Heat loss
  • Maintenance energy
  • Mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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