Predicting feed intake during exposure to pathogens

Source: J. Anim. Sci. 2006, 84
A general model is proposed for predicting the effects of subclinical pathogen challenges of different doses and virulence on the relative feed intake of growing animals. The proposed model may be integrated with other models of growth to predict animal performance during exposure to pathogens.
The relative feed intake (RFI) is defined as the feed intake (FI, kg/d) of the animal challenged by a pathogen divided by its FI in the same state had it not been challenged. Actual FI can be predicted from the RFI and the animal’s state. The RFI was assumed to be affected only when animals were naïve to a particular pathogen (i.e., had not previously experienced it) and when the challenge dose was above a predetermined threshold. The model is for the period from recognition of a pathogen through acquisition and subsequent expression of immunity.
The way in which RFI changes with time is described by 5 main parameters and is based on data for RFI during different pathogen challenges of a range of hosts. Lag time (L, d) is the delay from a pathogen challenge until any effects on RFI are seen. Reduction time (R, d) describes the time it takes for the lowest value of RFI ( ) to be achieved. The duration time (D, d) describes the time that is maintained for, and (RFI/d) describes the rate of recovery of RFI until RFI = 1. There is no compensatory intake, and RFI is always 1. The effects of host resistance on the values of the model parameters are proposed. Attempts were made to parameterize the model; when data were scarce, initial parameter values were derived on conceptual grounds. Predictions of the effects of pathogen dose, virulence, and host resistance are described and discussed. When comparing the responses in RFI for different genotypes, it is crucial to define the pathogen challenge (in terms of dose and virulence) and the degree of resistance of different hosts. Possible interactions between dose, virulence, and resistance were explored. Feed intake of healthy and challenged animals, at a time, may be different once the challenged animal has recovered (RFI = 1).
The issue of reductions in FI during pathogen challenges is important for nutritionist and animal breeders. The large variation that has been observed for reductions in FI during pathogen challenges may be a viable point of selection. The points highlighted will aid selection strategies by quantifying the effects of pathogen dose and virulence, and time, on the FI of challenged animals.

Title: A model for predicting feed intake of growing animals during exposure to pathogens
Authors: F. B. Sandberg, G. C. Emmans and I. Kyriazakis