Food resource allocation patterns in lactating females in a long-term selection experiment for litter size in mice

  • Wendy M. RauwEmail author
  • Pieter W. Knap
  • Martinus W.A. Verstegen
  • Petronella Luiting
Open Access


Resource allocation patterns, as quantified by residual food intake (RFI), and the consequences for offspring development were investigated during lactation in 96 females of a mouse line selected for 104 generations for high litter size at birth (S-line) and in 87 females of a non-selected control line (C-line). Litters of 45 C-line dams (Cs) and 48 S-line dams (Ss) were standardised (s) at birth; other dams (ns) supported total number of pups born (Cns and Sns, respectively). RFI during lactation was significantly lower in Sns-dams than in C-line dams and Sns-dams. After weaning Sns-dams seemed to be able to restore the negative resource situation. Sns-pups were about 25% less mature than Cns-pups at all times. Maturity was similar for Cs- and Ss-pups from 2 d in lactation on, and about 18% and 53% higher than Cns- and Sns-pups. The pre-weaning mortality rate was significantly higher in Sns-litters (35.6 ± 2.76) than in Cns-litters (4.95 ± 2.23). The results suggest that S-line dams allocated considerably more resources to maintenance of offspring than C-line dams. This was insufficient to provide the offspring with an adequate amount of resources, resulting in reduced pup development and increased pre-weaning mortality rates.


mice litter size lactation resource allocation residual food intake 

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2002

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy M. Rauw
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pieter W. Knap
    • 2
  • Martinus W.A. Verstegen
    • 3
  • Petronella Luiting
    • 2
  1. 1.Area de Producció AnimalCentre UdL-IRTALleidaSpain
  2. 2.PIC Deutschland GmbHSchleswigGermany
  3. 3.Animal Nutrition GroupWageningen Institute of Animal ScienceWageningenThe Netherlands

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