Lifetime reproductive performance and survival analysis of mice divergently selected for heat loss

A. S. Bhatnagar, M. K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Divergent selection for heat loss was implemented in mice creating maintenance high (MH) and low maintenance (ML) lines and an unselected control (MC) in 3 independent replicates. Mice from the ML line have improved feed efficiency, due to decreased maintenance energy requirement, but there is potential for a correlated decline in reproductive performance and survivability. Number fully formed (NFF), number born alive (NBA), number weaned (NW), litter weaning weight (LWW), pup weaning weight (PWW), fraction alive at birth (FAB), fraction alive at weaning, and birth interval were recorded at every parity on 21 mating pairs from each line × replicate combination cohabitated at 7 wk of age and maintained for up to 1 yr. Traits were summed over parities to evaluate lifetime production. Pairs were culled due to death or illness, no first parity by 42 d cohabitation, 2 consecutive litters with none born alive, 3 consecutive litters with none weaned, 42 d between parities, or average size of most recent 2 litters less than half the average of first 3 litters. Survival probabilities were produced and evaluated for each line and used to calculate mean number of parities using a Markov-chain algorithm assuming a maximum of 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 parities or 1 yr. Line was insignificant for all litter traits while NFF, NW, and FAB decreased with parity (P < 0.05) and PWW tended to increase (P < 0.07). The MC mice had higher lifetime NW, LWW, and PWW (P < 0.04). Birth interval showed that MH mice had increasingly larger intervals while remaining the same in ML mice (P < 0.01). In the survival analysis, MC mice had the greatest survival rates overall, but ML mice had the greatest rates in the period up to 5 parities while MH mice had the greatest rates in later parities. This resulted in greater mean number of parities for ML mice up to maximum of 8 parities and higher means for MH mice when the maximum number of allowed parities was 10 or higher. Reproductive performance was not substantially affected by changing maintenance energy requirements. The ML animals appear to survive well in early parities and produce more parities when a low number of maximum parities is enforced, but this benefit declines in later parities and MH animals survive better and increase mean number of parities when turnover rates are low. Therefore, selection for low maintenance animals may be beneficial for systems desiring a short generation interval but less so for systems desiring longevity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-484
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Feed efficiency
  • Heat loss
  • Mice
  • Reproduction
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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