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InraPorc: A model and decision support tool for the nutrition of sows

Dourmad, Jean-Yves, √Čtienne, Michel, Valancogne, Alain, Dubois, Serge, van Milgen, Jaap, Noblet, Jean
Animal feed science and technology 2008 v.143 no.1-4 pp. 372-386
mathematical models, decision support systems, sows, animal nutrition, sow feeding, nutrient requirements, computer software, nutrients, energy metabolism, amino acid metabolism
From results obtained over the last 20 years on energy and amino acid utilisation in reproductive sows, it has become possible to improve the determination of nutrient requirements (factorial approach) and the prediction of an animal's response to nutrient supplies (modelling). The objective of this project was to integrate the current state of knowledge in a nutritional model for growing pigs and for sows and make it available as a software tool to end-users, mainly nutritionists involved in the pig industry and students in animal nutrition. The aim of this paper is to describe the basis of the sow model. The sow is represented as different compartments that change over the reproductive cycle. Nutrient flows considered are those of energy and digestible amino acids. Nutrients are used with the highest priority for maintenance and uterine growth or milk production. Subsequently, deposition and/or mobilisation of body proteins and lipids are determined and used for estimating the changes in body weight and backfat thickness of the sow. A decision support tool was built from the set of equations given, with additional modules to describe animal's characteristics and adjust some model parameters to account for variations in genotypes and performance. This tool can be used to determine energy and amino acids requirements of sows according to production objectives, or to predict body composition changes according to a given feeding strategy. The use of the decision support tool is illustrated through some examples.