Animals selected for postweaning weight gain rate have similar maintenance energy requirements regardless of their residual feed intake classification.
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Data of comparative slaughter were used to determine Nellore bulls' net energy requirements classified as efficient or inefficient according to residual feed intake (RFI) and selection lines (SL). Sixty-seven Nellore bulls from the selected (SE) and control (CO) lines of the selection program for postweaning weight gain were used. The animals underwent digestibility trials before being submitted to the finishing trial. Sixteen bulls were slaughtered at the beginning of the finishing trial, and their body composition was used as the baseline for the remaining animals. For body composition determinations, whole empty body components were weighed, ground, and subsampled for chemical analyses. Initial body composition was determined with equations developed from the baseline group using shrunk body weight, fat, and protein. The low RFI (LRFI) and CO animals had a lower dry matter (DMI) and nutrient intake (P < 0.05) than high RFI (HRFI) and SE animals, without alterations in digestibility coefficients (P > 0.05). During the finishing trial, DMI remained lower for LRFI and CO animals. Growth performance was similar between RFI classes, except for empty body weight gain that tended to be higher for LRFI than HRFI (P = 0.091). The SE animals had less fat content on the empty body (P = 0.005) than CO. Carcasses tended to be leaner for LRFI than HRFI (P = 0.080) and for SE than CO (P = 0.066) animals. LRFI animals retained more energy (P = 0.049) and had lower heat production (HP; P = 0.033) than the HRFI ones. Retained energy was not influenced by SL (P = 0.165), but HP tended to be higher for SE when compared to CO (P = 0.075) animals. Net energy requirement for maintenance (NEm) was lower for LRFI than HRFI (P = 0.009), and higher for SE than CO (P = 0.046) animals. There was an interaction tendency between RFI and SL (P = 0.063), suggesting that NEm was lower for LRFI+CO than HRFI+CO (P = 0.006), with no differences for SE (P = 0.527) animals. The efficiency of ME utilization for maintenance (km) of LRFI and HRFI animals were 62.6% and 58.4%, respectively, and for SE and CO were 59.0% and 62.1%, respectively. The breeding program for postweaning weight has not improved feed efficiency over the years, with RFI classification not being a promising selection tool for SE animals. Classification based on RFI seems to be useful in animals that have not undergone the breeding program, with LRFI animals having lower energy requirements than the HRFI ones.