Genetics of residual feed intake in cattle and pigs: A review

M. A. Hoque, K. Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The feed resource for animals is a major cost determinant for profitability in livestock production enterprises, and thus any effort at improving the efficiency of feed use will help to reduce feed cost. Feed conversion ratio, expressed as feed inputs per unit output, is a traditional measure of efficiency that has significant phenotypic and genetic correlations with feed intake and growth traits. The use of ratio traits for genetic selection may cause problems associated with prediction of change in the component traits in future generations. Residual feed intake, a linear index, is a trait derived from the difference between actual feed intake and that predicted on the basis of the requirements for maintenance of body weight and production. Considerable genetic variation exists in residual feed intake for cattle and pigs, which should respond to selection. Phenotypic independence of phenotypic residual feed intake with body weight and weight gain can be obligatory. Genetic residual feed intake is genetically independent of its component traits (body weight and weight gain). Genetic correlations of residual feed intake with daily feed intake and feed conversion efficiency have been strong and positive in both cattle and pigs. Residual feed intake is favorably genetically correlated with eye muscle area and carcass weight in cattle and with eye muscle area and backfat in pigs. Selection to reduce residual feed intake (excessive intake of feed) will improve the efficiency of feed and most of the economically important carcass traits in cattle and pigs. Therefore, residual feed intake can be used to replace traditional feed conversion ratio as a selection criterion of feed efficiency in breeding programs. However, further studies are required on the variation of residual feed intake during different developmental stage of production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-755
Number of pages9
JournalAsian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Consequences of selection
  • Genetic variation
  • Residual feed intake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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