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Longitudinal analysis of residual feed intake and BW in mink using random regression with heterogeneous residual variance

  • M. Shirali (a1), V. H. Nielsen (a1), S. H. Møller (a2) and J. Jensen (a1)


The aim of this study was to determine the genetic background of longitudinal residual feed intake (RFI) and BW gain in farmed mink using random regression methods considering heterogeneous residual variances. The individual BW was measured every 3 weeks from 63 to 210 days of age for 2139 male+female pairs of juvenile mink during the growing-furring period. Cumulative feed intake was calculated six times with 3-week intervals based on daily feed consumption between weighing’s from 105 to 210 days of age. Genetic parameters for RFI and BW gain in males and females were obtained using univariate random regression with Legendre polynomials containing an animal genetic effect and permanent environmental effect of litter along with heterogeneous residual variances. Heritability estimates for RFI increased with age from 0.18 (0.03, posterior standard deviation (PSD)) at 105 days of age to 0.49 (0.03, PSD) and 0.46 (0.03, PSD) at 210 days of age in male and female mink, respectively. The heritability estimates for BW gain increased with age and had moderate to high range for males (0.33 (0.02, PSD) to 0.84 (0.02, PSD)) and females (0.35 (0.03, PSD) to 0.85 (0.02, PSD)). RFI estimates during the growing period (105 to 126 days of age) showed high positive genetic correlations with the pelting RFI (210 days of age) in male (0.86 to 0.97) and female (0.92 to 0.98). However, phenotypic correlations were lower from 0.47 to 0.76 in males and 0.61 to 0.75 in females. Furthermore, BW records in the growing period (63 to 126 days of age) had moderate (male: 0.39, female: 0.53) to high (male: 0.87, female: 0.94) genetic correlations with pelting BW (210 days of age). The result of current study showed that RFI and BW in mink are highly heritable, especially at the late furring period, suggesting potential for large genetic gains for these traits. The genetic correlations suggested that substantial genetic gain can be obtained by only considering the RFI estimate and BW at pelting, however, lower genetic correlations than unity indicate that extra genetic gain can be obtained by including estimates of these traits during the growing period. This study suggests random regression methods are suitable for analysing feed efficiency and BW gain; and genetic selection for RFI in mink is promising.


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