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Feed Conversion Ratio Calculator

What is FCR - Feed Conversion Ratio?

FCR stands for Feed Conversion Ratio. FCR is an effective way to measure the productivity of livestock by comparing the input (feed) required to produce an output (meat, eggs, etc). FCR provider farmers with a key performance metric to help evaluate the productivity and potential return on investment of an animal. It also can help a farmer to experiment with different feed types, species and inputs to determine how they may impact the animal FCR and ultimately its productivity.


It's important to note that the calculations for FCR vary depending on they type of livestock and what is being produced.


For example:

  • For animals raised for meat - Feed Conversion Rate measures the feed required for the animal to gain 1 pound or kilogram of body weight

  • For dairy animals - FCR looks at the feed required to produce 1 gallon or liter of milk

  • And for layer poultry - FCR most often looks at the amount of feed required for your flock to produce 1 dozen eggs.




Benefits of Tracking Feed Conversion Ratio

Tracking Feed Conversion Ratios for your livestock is an important aspect of understanding the productivity and profitability of your livestock business.


Regularly measuring and evaluating your animal's FCR can help you to:

  • Evaluate if an animal is likely a poor producer, which may impact their breeding potential

  • Identify animals that maybe in poor health or have other environmental aspects effecting their productivity

  • Determine profitable sales prices that factor in the cost of your inputs to produce your yields

  • Estimate feed needs and cost for livestock (which is often about 70% of your production costs)

  • Test and compare the efficiency and impact of different feeds

  • Better understand the overall profitability of your operation and make informed decisions about animals, grazing patterns and feed types

  • Increase or decrease supplements

  • Compare your livestock to species or industry production benchmarks to understand how well your animals are performing


How to calculate Feed Conversion Ratio

The Feed conversion ratio (FCR) is calculated using the following formula:


FCR Formula


For animals raised for meat, FCR is calculated as:

FCR = Total feed consumed (lbs/kg) / Total animal weight (lbs/kg)
Total weight = final weight of animal – starting weight animal during that period. Farmers may evaluate FCR for both live and hang weights of animals to determine different production ratios.

For dairy animals, FCR is calculated as:

FCR = Total feed consumed (lbs/kg) / Total milk produced (gallons/liters) in that period

For layer poultry, FCR is typically calculated as:

FCR = Total feed consumed (lbs/kg) / Eggs produced (dozens) in that period
FCR can be calculated on a rolling bases, where you evaluate the total amount feed compared to the weight gained in that period (month, year, etc)


Factors Influencing FCR

Let's take a look at some of the factors that can influence Feed Conversion Ratios results:

  • Animal overall health and well being

  • Environmental conditions the animal is exposed to (temperature, light, adequate space, water, etc)

  • Quality and nutrition of feed

  • Grazing patterns and forage quality

  • Stage of animal's growth (FCR is very different for a calf than for a nursing cow)

  • Different animal genetics of species variations




Feed Conversion Ratios for Different Animals

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that different livestock types have different average Feed Conversion Ratios. These averages can also vary by breeds.


Here's some commons livestock animal types and their average FCR:

Animal Type

Average FCR

Cattle

8.0 - 12.0

Goats

4.5 - 5.5 on high quality feed or forage and 30 on straw ration

Sheep

4.5 - 5.5 on high quality feed or forage and 30 on straw ration

Pig

3.0 - 3.9

Broiler Chickens

1.5 - 2.0

Layer Chickens

330 - 360 eggs/year

Rabbits

3.5 - 5.0


How to Improve Feed Conversion Ratio

As we talked about previously FCR helps to evaluate productivity of your animals based on their ability to convert feed into yield. But, before making changes to try and improve an animal's FCR it's important to get an accurate FCR base line for the animal and compare it to industry and species averages.


Depending on the potential cause for an animals poor FCR score here are a few ideas on how to potentially improve their Feed Conversion Ratio:

  • Ensure the animals have a safe, comfortable environment and housing with proper light, temperature and space requirements.

  • Monitor and track body condition score to help determine animal health.

  • Regularly monitor animal health and stay current on vaccinations.

  • Feed livestock the correct diet at the right portions based on the animals growth stage and other nutritional needs to ensure they can absorb the most nutritional value from their food.


Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) Calculator


Summary

Hopefully this article provides you with some additional background and insight into the value of tracking key animal metrics like Feed Conversion Ratios. Understanding your livestock health and growth is critical to ensuring high quality products and strong profits.


Farmbrite is a complete farm and livestock management system. If you're interested in simplifying the tracking and management of your livestock data, check out Farmbrite to streamline livestock health, growth, feeding, breeding and other key records - including automating FCR reporting for you.

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