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Phenotyping for feed efficiency and its components, a need to improve the efficiency of livestock production

INRA Prod Anim 27(3) 235-248


1 INRA, UMR1313 GABI, F-78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France

2 AgroParisTech, UMR1313 GABI, F-75231 Paris, France

3 INRA UMR1213 Herbivores, F- 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

4 Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR1213 Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

5 INRA UR1067 Nutrition, Métabolisme et Aquaculture, Aquapôle, F-64310 St Pée-sur-Nivelle, France

6 INRA, UR83 Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly, France

7 INRA, UMR1388 GenPhySE, F-3 31326 Castanet-Tolosan France

8 Université de Toulouse INPT ENSAT, UMR1388 GenPhySE, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France

9 Université de Toulouse INPT ENVT, UMR1388 GenPhySE, F-31076 Toulouse, France

10 INRA, UMR1348 PEGASE, F-35590 Saint Gilles, France

11 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR1348 PEGASE, F-35000 Rennes, France


In a context of an increasing demand for animal proteins, precision farming and animal breeding must be goal-oriented to improve production competitiveness and to reduce environmental impact. Animals have to be more efficient in transforming their diet (reducing their feed intake while maintaining production performance), accepting various feeds (protein and fibers) and reducing their wastes (total, N, P, GHG…). However, feed efficiency is a complex phenotype that needs to be deeply phenotyped. This will allow unravelling the biological processes to identify ways to improve feed efficiency (digestive versus metabolic efficiency; energetic versus protein efficiency) according to the genotype, the feed level and the diet composition (fibre content, AA content). Predictive biology of feed intake and feed efficiency is also needed using cost-effective and easy to record traits (growth, biomarkers…) for precision farming and for selective breeding, because large-scale phenotyping for feed intake remains costly. To assess the efficiency of livestock production systems, there is a need to reconsider animal responses according to contrasted genotypes and feeds not only for feed efficiency and wastes in quantity and quality (GHG, N, P), but also for robustness of animals (feeding behavior, general activity, health).

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