Protein accretion curves were derived using food intake, growth and body composition data from a total of 320 pigs, which comprised castrated males and gilts from five genotypes. The 32 pigs from each genotype/sex subclass were offered ad libitum a series of isoenergetic diets (13·8 MJ metabolizable energy per kg) designed to provide a non-limiting intake of nutrients and to allow maximum protein deposition rates. Four pigs from each subclass weren slaughtered at each of the live weights (kg) 25, 44, 65, 85, 100, 115, 130 and 150. Daily food intake (dF/dt) was described as an increasing exponential function of age (t), live weight (W) as an increasing exponential function of cumulative food consumed (F), and protein weight (Pr) as an allometric function of live weight (W). The rate of protein accretion in the body of pigs [d(Pr)/dt] was calculated as d(Pr)/dt = (dF/dt).(dW/dF).(dPr)/dW). Bootstrap procedures were used to estimate standard errors for the food intake, growth and compositional parameters and to obtain the confidence bands for the dependent variables (dF/dt, W, Pr and d(Pt)/dt).
Protein accretion rate as a function of live weight was curvilinear, increasing to a maximum, then decreasing with increasing live weight. There were significant differences between subclasses in the maximum rate of protein accretion, although there was no relationship between this rate and the live weight, stage of maturity, or age at which maximum protein accretion occurred. Describing protein accretion as a multiplicative function of food intake, food efficiency and the partitioning of nutrients in the body allowed changes in the magnitude and shape of the protein accretion curve to be ascribed to one, or a combination, of the above mechanisms.