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A Novel Estimation of Unobserved Pig Growth Traits for the Purposes of Precision Feeding Methods

Lookup NU author(s): Maciek Misiura, Dr Joao Filipe



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Copyright © 2021 Misiura, Filipe and Kyriazakis.Recent technological advances make it possible to deliver feeding strategies that can be tailored to the needs of individual pigs in order to optimise the allocation of nutrient resources and contribute toward reducing excess nutrient excretion. However, these efforts are currently hampered by the challenges associated with: (1) estimation of unobserved traits from the available data on bodyweight and feed consumption; and (2) characterisation of the distributions and correlations of these unobserved traits to generate accurate estimates of individual level variation among pigs. Here, alternative quantitative approaches to these challenges, based on the principles of inverse modelling and separately inferring individual level distributions within a Bayesian context were developed and incorporated in a proposed precision feeding modelling framework. The objectives were to: (i) determine the average and distribution of individual traits characterising growth potential and body composition in an empirical population of growing-finishing barrows and gilts; (ii) simulate the growth and excretion of nitrogen and phosphorus of the average pig offered either a commercial two-phase feeding plan, or a precision feeding plan with daily adjustments; and (iii) simulate the growth and excretion of nitrogen and phosphorus across the pig population under two scenarios: a two-phase feeding plan formulated to meet the nutrient requirements of the average pig or a precision feeding plan with daily adjustments for each and every animal in the population. The distributions of mature bodyweight and ratio of lipid to protein weights at maturity had median (IQR) values of 203 (47.8) kg and 2.23 (0.814) kg/kg, respectively; these estimates were obtained without any prior assumptions concerning correlations between the traits. Overall, it was found that a proposed precision feeding strategy could result in considerable reductions in excretion of nitrogen and phosphorus (average pig: 8.07 and 9.17% reduction, respectively; heterogenous pig population: 22.5 and 22.9% reduction, respectively) during the growing-finishing period from 35 to 120 kg bodyweight. This precision feeding modelling framework is anticipated to be a starting point toward more accurate estimation of individual level nutrient requirements, with the general aim of improving the economic and environmental sustainability of future pig production systems.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Misiura MM, Filipe JAN, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Year: 2021

Volume: 8

Online publication date: 29/07/2021

Acceptance date: 21/06/2021

Date deposited: 24/08/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2297-1769

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.


DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2021.689206


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Funder referenceFunder name
... Innovation Horizon 2020 under grant agreement no. 633531.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in collaboration with AB Vista in the form of a postgraduate studentship to MM. This paper is a part of MM doctoral thesis.
JF was also partially supported by The Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS).
JF and IK were supported by the Feed-a-Gene project. Feed-a-Gene received funding from the European Commission under the European Union Framework Programme for Research and ...