A dynamic model for simulation of growth in pigs, extended to describe thermoregulatory processes, was made stochastic to simulate groups of pigs with between-animal variation in mature body protein (Pα) and lipid mass (Lα), in the potential rate at which mature mass is attained (B⋆), and in the distribution of body protein and lipid over pools and depots. The resulting variation in body composition leads to variation in energy requirements for protein turn-over and thermoregulation, causing between-animal variation in maintenance requirements (MEmaint).
Simulated population means for Pα, Lα /Pα and B⋆ were varied in three steps each. Excluding unrealistic parameter combinations this led to 33 – 6 = 21 simulated genotypes. Simulated within-population coefficients of variation (CV) were 7, 15 and 3%. Random replicates of each genotype were simulated five times, in climatic conditions that were in turn severely cold, mildly cold (about 5 and 1ºC below lower critical temperature), thermoneutral, mildly hot and severely hot (about 1 and 5ºC above upper critical temperature), during the entire growth period of 23 to 100 kg live weight. Simulated food intake was ad libitum.
Simulated thermoneutral within-population standard deviations of body protein and lipid content were 0·21 to 0·46 kg and 0·78 to 2·14 kg at 100 kg body weight. On average, the corresponding values in cold and hot conditions were slightly higher.
MEmaint showed a protein-turn-over-related within-population CV of 1·5% at thermoneutrality. Thermoregulatory action contributed about 4% extra variance in cold and hot conditions but CV values were not affected. A genetic increase in the maximum protein deposition rate from 100 to 250 g/day would increase MEmaint as related to protein turn-over and thermoregulation by 11% at thermoneutrality, and by 6 to 11% in cold or hot conditions. Two relevant groups of genotypes could be distinguished based on the within-population regression coefficients of MEmaint on daily or cumulative protein deposition (bdailyPdep, bcumPdep). These ranged from 0·250 to 0·428 kJ/kg0·75 per day per g/day and from 2·77 to 5·45 kJ/kg0·75 per day per kg, respectively, in 12 ‘conventional’ genotypes at thermoneutrality. On average, bdailyPdep was increased by 48%, 20%, –11% and –36% in the other climatic conditions mentioned above, respectively. The corresponding increase of bcumPdep was 32%, 14%, 8% and 48%. Three fast-growing lean genotypes showed similar bdailyPdep and bcumPdep at thermoneutrality, but much more pronounced increases in cold and hot conditions: 137%, 49%, –12% and + 88% for bdailyPdep and 248%, 108%, 17% and 196% for bcumPdep.
It is concluded that differences in body composition traits between pig genotypes do not cause important between-genotype differences in thermoregulatory MEmaint, and that thermoregulatory processes contribute little body-composition-related variation to hot or cold MEmaint within most genotypes.
The inferences to be made from this with regard to experimental design are discussed. The verification of the above predictions will require a very elaborate and large-scale experiment.