After seven generations of selection, a line of mice selected for post-weaning (21–42 days) weight gain on full feeding (SF) showed significant increases of 49% in weight gain, 31% in efficiency and 14% in food intake, when compared with its control on full feeding between 21 and 42 days. After day 42, SF mice continued to eat more food and were 28% heavier than control mice at 91 days. Because SF mice were heavier than control mice at almost all ages, they were fatter on an age basis. There was, however, no change in the rate of deposition of fat, protein and ash relative to body weight. On restricted feeding between 21 and 42 days, SF mice showed a non-significant increase in weight gain, and hence in efficiency, of 12%. They deposited more fat than control mice during the feeding period but there was no significant difference when comparisons were made on a weight basis.
A contemporary line of mice selected for post-weaning (21–42 days) weight gain on restricted feeding (SR) had significant increases of 12% in weight gain, 17% in efficiency but no significant change in food intake, when compared with its control on full feeding between 21 and 42 days. SR mice were the same weight as control mice at all ages except day 21, when they were significantly lighter due to direct genetic effects rather than maternal effects. SR mice had a lower (P<0·10) rate of fat deposition per unit body weight and became less fat relative to their control as body weight increased. The rate of deposition of other components was not altered by selection. On restricted feeding, SR had a significant increase in weight gain, and hence in efficiency, of 37%. Changes in body composition were similar to those on full feeding.
It was concluded that the use of a restricted feeding regime had enabled the exploitation of heritable variation in the partitioning of energy for growth. This variation was independent of genetic variation for appetite and body weight.
Overall performance at each level of feeding was best improved by selection on that feeding level. The realized genetic correlation between post-weaning weight gain on full and restricted feeding was estimated to be 0·28 ± 0·08, indicating a very different genetic basis for the same character in the two feeding environments.