The components of efficiency, or strictly of inefficiency, in the production of lean meat from pigs is examined. Attention is drawn to the relatively high cost of lipid accretion and of maintenance, as it is affected by growth rate. The insensitivity of the overall efficiency to reproductive rate is noted, and the value of alternative approaches such as the use of once-bred gilts highlighted. The role of voluntary intake in the profitability of pig production is examined and attention drawn to the fact that as pigs become genetically more lean, one of the few remaining avenues for progress in efficiency will be increasing lean-tissue growth rate by increasing intake. Mention is made of the need for new technology to take account of the total physiology of the animal rather than a single aspect, and the need to be aware in striving for genetic change of increasing public awareness of welfare issues.

V. R Fowler

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume XI. Genetics of reproduction, lactation, growth, adaptation, disease, and parasite resistance., , 345–354, 1986
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