Environment and Nutrition

In some species, it may be economically feasible to modify the temperature, humidity, air flow, photoperiod, etc. to provide a more favorable environment for optimal animal growth. At less-than-optimal temperatures, energy is expended to maintain body temperature, whereas at elevated temperatures, animals decrease feed intake to diminish heat production. Both extremes produce less-than-optimal growth. Shelters of various design and even enclosed buildings may be economically advantageous in raising some species, e.g., poultry and pigs in temperate climates.

Nutrition is an important determinant of body composition. The diet must be optimal for vitamin, mineral, and energy content. Insufficient protein or an inappropriate amino acid composition leads to lesser growth of skeletal muscle and more deposition of fat. However, provision of a high-quality ration ad libitum leads to excess fat deposition. In pigs fed ad libitum, 92.5% ad libitum, and 85% ad libitum, the carcass protein was 100%, 97%, and 94%, respectively, whereas the fat was 100%, 86%, and 75%, respectively.[6] The groups fed 92.5% and 85% ad libitum required 5% and 10% less feed per unit protein produced. Many experiments indicate the advantage of less than ad libitum feeding. Experimental limit feeding uses individually penned animals or computer-controlled feed delivery systems. Practical implementation of limited feeding is difficult. In group-penned animals fed limited quantities, socially dominant animals eat at greater than ad libitum and submissive animals eat less than required. Biomedical research to understand neural control of feeding behavior may lead to strategies to control feed intake in animals raised for meat production. Leptin, a protein produced and secreted by adipocytes, binds to receptors in the brain to diminish feed intake. Also, some dietary fatty acids, e.g., n-3 polyun-saturated fatty acids or conjugated linoleic acids, favor less fat deposition in rodents and other species, including pigs. The practicality and economics of using such technologies are yet to be demonstrated.

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