Fast growing and high feed intake
It is well known that individual variation in growth efficiency may partly be explained by differences in social status or variability in digestion, absorption, utilization and metabolism. Today, the traditional way of selecting animals for feed efficiency is through indirect methods such as growth rate, based on the assumption that growth rate correlates with feed utilization. The outcome is faster growing fish, but also fish with a higher feed intake. Thus, overall result need not be increased feed efficiency.
Measure protein turnover
“In my research, the aim is to develop direct methods to select for feed efficiency in Atlantic salmon. Protein metabolism is a major determinant in the conversion of feed into growth. I therefore measure protein turnover in muscle, liver and mid-intestine of Atlantic salmon”, Foods of Norway’s PhD-student Hanne Dvergedal explains.
Altogether 510 fish will be tested in the pilot project. Dvergedal aims to distinguish the genetic variation within and between families in their ability to produce high quality fish products on as little feed as possible and still promote good health of the fish.
“A possible direct way to select for feed efficiency is therefore to develop a method to measure protein turnover at an individual level and compare families”, Dvergedal says.