Predicting the effects of body fatness on food intake and performance of sheep
AuthorTolkamp, B. J.; Yearsley, J. M.; Gordon, I. J.; Illius, A. W.; Speakman, J. R.; Kyriazakis, I.
Adipose tissue produces signals that can have a profound effect on many physiological functions, including energy expenditure and food intake. The hypothesis that variation in food intake of sheep resulting from differences in animal fatness can be predicted from effects of animal fatness on energetic efficiency was subjected to three tests. First, an existing food intake model was adapted to account for effects of animal fatness, as estimated by condition score, on food intake. Parameter values were derived from data obtained with two of five treatment groups of an experiment where ewe lambs were fed either chopped hay or pelleted concentrates. The model predicted the intake of the remaining three treatment groups satisfactorily. The energy intake model was subsequently extended with a protein module based upon a Gompertz curve to simulate changes in body weight and condition score. The model predicted these changes satisfactorily for most treatment groups during the experimental period of 50 weeks. In a last test, the final body weights and body lipid contents of animals fed either hay or concentrates for a period of 3 years were predicted. The predictions for final body weight (77 or 118 kg) and lipid content in the empty body (26 or 58%) were within the range of expectations for sheep with access to hay or concentrates, respectively. The biological implications of the hypothesis that body fatness acts upon voluntary intake via its effects on energetic efficiency are discussed. © The Authors 2007.