Limits to sustained energy intake I: Lactation in the laboratory mouse Mus musculus

M. S. Johnson, S. C. Thomson, John Roger Speakman

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174 Citations (Scopus)


Laboratory mice (strain MF1) were used to determine whether sustainable rates of energy intake are limited during lactation. Mice raising natural-sized litters (N=71) reached an asymptote in their daily food intake between days 13 and 16 of lactation at 23.1 g day(-1) and also between litter sizes of 9 and 15 pups (22.8 g day(-1)). A second group of 37 females had their litter sizes manipulated at birth to raise more or fewer offspring than they gave birth to. When the litter size was increased, females did not increase their food intake to match their new litter size. However, when litter size was decreased, females decreased their asymptotic daily food intake during late lactation in relation to the extent of reduction in litter size. Therefore, it appeared that females were limited during late lactation and with large litter sizes, The milk energy exported amounted to 44 % of the gross energy intake, and the estimated daily energy expenditure was therefore considerably lower than the sustained energy intake [8.0xRMR(gross), 6.6xRMR(assimilated)], and averaged 3.1xRMR, where RMR is resting metabolic rate. It was not possible to determine whether the apparent limit on sustained energy intake was acting centrally or peripherally because of the asymptotes in both food intake and milk energy output with increasing litter size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925-1935
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • energetics
  • maximal metabolic rate
  • sustained metabolic rate
  • pregnancy
  • lactation
  • reproduction
  • mouse
  • MICE


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