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Repeatability of traits for characterizing feed intake patterns in dairy goats: a basis for phenotyping in the precision farming context

Abstract : In ruminants, feeding behaviour variables are parameters involved in feed efficiency that show variation among individuals. This study aimed to evaluate during the first two production cycles in ruminants the repeatability of feed intake pattern, which is an important aspect of feeding behaviour. Thirty-five dairy goats from Alpine or Saanen breeds were housed in individual pens at four periods (end of first gestation, middle of first and second lactations and middle of second gestation which is also the end of first lactation) and fed a total mixed ration (TMR) ad libitum. Individual cumulative dry matter intake (DMI) was automatically measured every 2 min during the last 4 days of each period. Feed intake pattern was characterized by several measures related to the quantity of feed eaten or to the rate of intake during the 15 h following the afternoon feed delivery. Two main methods were used: modelling cumulative DMI evolution by an exponential model or by a segmentation-clustering method. The goat ability to sort against dietary fibre was also evaluated. There was a very good repeatability of the aggregate measures between days within a period for a given goat estimated by the day effect within breed and goat, tested on the residual variance (P > 0.95). The correlations between periods were the highest between the second and either the third or fourth periods. With increasing age, goats sorted more against the fibrous part of the TMR and increased their initial rate of intake. Alpine goats ate more slowly than Saanen goats but ate during a longer duration. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed on all the aggregate measures of feed intake patterns. The factor score plots generated by the PCA highlighted the opposition between the different measures of feed intake patterns and the sorting behaviour. The projection of the animals on the scoring plots showed a breed effect and that there was a continuum for the feed intake pattern of goats. In conclusion, this study showed that the feed intake pattern was highly repeatable for an animal in a given period and between periods. This means that phenotyping goats in a younger age might be of interest, either to select them on feeding behaviour and choose preferentially the slow eaters or to adapt the quantity offered and restrict feed delivery to the fast eaters in order to increase feed efficiency and welfare by limiting the occurrence of acidosis, for example.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 27, 2019 - 1:56:50 PM
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Sylvie Giger-Reverdin, Christine Duvaux-Ponter, Daniel Sauvant, Nicolas N.C. Friggens. Repeatability of traits for characterizing feed intake patterns in dairy goats: a basis for phenotyping in the precision farming context. Animal, 2020, 14 (5), pp.1083-1092. ⟨10.1017/S1751731119002817⟩. ⟨hal-02382861⟩



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