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. 2013 Sep 11;8(9):e74153.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074153. eCollection 2013.

Energy Reallocation to Breeding Performance Through Improved Nest Building in Laboratory Mice

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Free PMC article

Energy Reallocation to Breeding Performance Through Improved Nest Building in Laboratory Mice

Brianna N Gaskill et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Mice are housed at temperatures (20-26 °C) that increase their basal metabolic rates and impose high energy demands to maintain core temperatures. Therefore, energy must be reallocated from other biological processes to increase heat production to offset heat loss. Supplying laboratory mice with nesting material may provide sufficient insulation to reduce heat loss and improve both feed conversion and breeding performance. Naïve C57BL/6, BALB/c, and CD-1 breeding pairs were provided with bedding alone, or bedding supplemented with either 8 g of Enviro-Dri, 8 g of Nestlets, for 6 months. Mice provided with either nesting material built more dome-like nests than controls. Nesting material improved feed efficiency per pup weaned as well as pup weaning weight. The breeding index (pups weaned/dam/week) was higher when either nesting material was provided. Thus, the sparing of energy for thermoregulation of mice given additional nesting material may have been responsible for the improved breeding and growth of offspring.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: A portion of the nesting material used in this study was donated by FiberCore and Shepherd Specialty Papers. All mice and animal care were provided by Charles River. BNG at the time of conducting, analyzing, and writing this manuscript was a student at Purdue University. Upon graduation (Aug. 2011) she was hired as a postdoctoral researcher at Charles River. Charles River provided input on the design of the experiment and editing of the manuscript. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. LSM and SE values of mean nest score for (a) Treatment by litter presence, (b) Strain by litter presence, and (c) Strain by treatment averaged by cage over six month experiment.
Letters indicate significant differences using Tukey tests.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Mean six month breeding index is the number of pups weaned per female in a cage per week of pairing.
LSM and SE values are plotted, and letters indicate significant differences using Tukey tests.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Mean pup mortality was calculated as the total number of bodies born by the total number of pups weaned.
LSM and SE values are plotted, and letters indicate significant differences using Tukey tests.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Mean weaning weight of pups raised in cages with different nesting material treatments is represented on the y axis as a log transformed scale.
LSM and SE are plotted and significant differences using Tukey comparisons are indicated by asterisks.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Mean pup weaning weight (g) is represented on the y axis as a log transformed scale.
Observations at each weaning age were averaged per treatment for visual purposes. Data points without SE bars depict a singular observation at that weaning age. Solid and fragmented lines depict the least squares line for each treatment.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Mean number of pups weaned per kilogram of food.
LSM values have been normalized to depict the number weaned per 1000 grams of food. Letters indicate significant differences using Tukey tests.

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References

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    1. Gaskill BN, Gordon CJ, Pajor EA, Lucas JR, Davis JK et al. (2013) Impact of nesting material on mouse body temperature and physiology. Physiol Behav 110: 87-95. PubMed: 23313562. - PubMed
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    1. Gaskill BN, Lucas JR, Pajor EA, Garner JP (2011) Working with what you’ve got: Changes in thermal preference and behavior in mice with or without nesting material. J Therm Biol 36: 1193-1199.

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Grant support

This work was supported by the Professor William Russel Fellowship from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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