Providing pigs a diet that matches their nutrient requirements involves optimizing the diet based on the nutrient digestibility values of the considered feed ingredients. Feeding the same quantity of a diet to pigs with similar BW but with different requirements, however, can result in a different average daily gain (ADG) and backfat thickness (BF) between pigs. Digestibility may contribute to this variation in efficiency. We investigated variation in feed efficiency traits in grower-finisher pigs associated with variation in faecal digestibility values, independent of feed intake at the time of measuring faecal digestibility. Considered traits were ADG, average daily feed intake (ADFI), feed conversion ratio (FCR), BF and residual feed intake (RFI). Feed intake, BW, and BF data of one hundred and sixty three-way crossbreed grower-finisher pigs (eighty female and eighty male) were collected during two phases, from day 0 of the experiment (mean BW 23 kg) till day 56 (mean BW 70 kg) and from day 56 to slaughter (mean BW 121 kg). Pigs were either fed a diet based on corn/soybean meal or a more fibrous diet based on wheat/barley/by-products, with titanium dioxide as indigestible marker. Faecal samples of one hundred and five pigs were collected on the day before slaughter and used to determine apparent faecal digestibility of DM, ash, organic matter (OM), CP, crude fat (CFat), crude fibre (CF), and to calculate the digestibility of nonstarch polysaccharides (NSPs) and energy (E). The effects of diet, sex and covariate feed intake at sampling (FIs) on faecal digestibility values were estimated and were significant for all except for CFat. Faecal digestibility values of each individual pig determined at the day before slaughter, corrected for diet, sex and FIs, were used to estimate their association with ADG, ADFI, FCR, BF, and RFI. In the first phase, a one percent unit increase in faecal digestibility of DM, ash, OM, E, CP, CFat, CF, NSP, and Ash individually was related to 0.01–0.03 unit reduction in FCR and 6–23 g/day reduction in RFI. A unit increase in CP digestibility was related to 0.1 mm increase in BF and 10 g/day increase in ADG. In the second phase, a one percent unit increase in faecal digestibility of DM, CP and Ash was related to a decrease of 16–20 g/day in RFI. In conclusion, the relationship between variation in feed efficiency traits and faecal digestibility values is different across the developmental stages of a pig.
- Feed efficiency
- Feed intake