Feed Conversion Ratio or FCR is one of the most critical components of livestock management. Each poultry farm owner or livestock manager wants to have low FCR. Each farm owner involved in animal husbandry uses FCR to define the feeding strategy or analyze feed efficiency. Here in this post, we will discuss everything about FCR, including how to achieve the best FCR in livestock.
- What is Feed Conversion Ratio?
- Formula to Calculate FCR
- Types of FCRs
- FCR for Different Farm Animals
- Factors Affective the FCR
- How to Achieve Best FCR
Take a look…..
What is Feed Conversion Ratio or FCR?
Feed conversion ratio or FCR is a measure of an animal’s efficiency to convert feed into increased body mass. It indicates how efficient an animal is to convert feed mass to the desired output. The expected outcome may be anything, from milk for dairy cows and goats, eggs for laying birds, meat for meat animals such as broilers, goats, pigs, etc., wool for wool animals like sheep, goats, rabbits, etc. An FCR helps farmers to determine whether or not an animal is an efficient food converter. In addition to this, it also allows farmers to prepare budgets for the feed for the entire cycle.
Formula to Calculate FCR
FCR is the mathematical relationship between the input of the feed given to the livestock over a period of time and weight gain of a population. It can be defined as feed intake divided by weight gain. FCR is the mass of feed consumed or ingested divided by the output over a given period.
FCR = Feed Eaten/Animal weight gain
FCR = Mass of Input/ Mass of Output
FCR is considered the most valuable and robust tool for livestock managers and poultry and fish farm owners. It helps farmers to know how efficient feed or feeding strategy has been so far.
Each farm owner desire a low FCR. Low FCR simply means lower feed costs. A low FCR is an excellent indication of a high-quality feed; it shows that animals are efficient feed users. It is suitable for farmers because more output is produced with less input or feed.
The ratio of 1:1 is considered the best in Animal Husbandry. However, it is impossible to maintain the ratio of 1:1 because it is next to impossible to fetch one KGs of broiler meat with 1kgs of feed. As retaining 100% nutrients is not possible, then there are some losses in a biological system that can’t be avoided, such as heat increment, environmental losses, etc.
- Biological FCR: Biological FCR is the net amount of feed given to produce one kg of the broiler.
- Economic FCR: As the name states, it considers all the feed consumed along with the effect of feed losses and mortalities.
- Technical FCR: The total amount of consumed feed divided by the number of animals exited the house.
- Corrected FCR at Fixed Weight: It is the average ratio of different flocks considering that they all were slaughtered at the same weight.
- Corrected FCR at Fixed Age: The weight is determined based on the estimation that the chickens might have reached the same age.
FCR for Different Farm Animals
- FCR Poultry: Average FCR for poultry is 1.5. A red label chicken (with slow-growing strain) raised outdoors and slaughtered at 81 days will have an average FCR value of 2.8 – 3.2. While a standard broiler chicken reared in an enclosed house will have an FCR of 1.3 – 1.6.
- FCR Sheep: 4-5 on high-quality feed, 5-6 on good quality feed, and 6 when fed low-quality feed.
- FCR Cattle: 12.5
- FCR Pigs: 3 – 3.2
- FCR Rabbits: 2.5-3 on high grain diets and 3.5-4 on forage without grains.
- FCR Crickets: About 1.7
- FCR Fish: Tilapia has an FCR of 1.6-1.8. While Catfish has 1.5-5
Factors Affecting the Feed Conversion Ratio
1. Genetics of the farm animals:
The first and foremost constituent is the Genetics of the farm animals. Some animals can naturally produce more output from less feed than the other animals of the same species. Like in the case of goats, dairy goat breeds produce more milk than the non-dairy breeds. Similarly, in laying hens, the commercial egg-laying hens lay more eggs than the local breeds.
2. Age of the farm animal:
Another factor that determines FCR is – age of the farm animals. Of course, young animals have a faster growth rate compared to adult animals. Young animals need highly nutritious protein-rich feed. That is why young animals have a lower FCR. This is why most poultry farmers sell broilers in just six weeks, and fishery owner sells their Catfish after raising it for 3-3.5 months. Farmers benefit by ending their production before their livestock reaches maturity and takes advantage of lower FCR and less feed cost.
3. Quality of the feed:
What diet you give your animals also affect the Feed Conversion Ratio. It’s straightforward, animals given a nutritional diet that meets their nutritional requirement will have lower FCR. While the ones fed with low-quality feed will have higher FCR. Moreover, the nutritional requirement of animals varies based on their age. Animals at different growth stages will have different dietary needs. For instance, a young broiler will require a more nutritional diet than an adult broiler. Likewise, this is with every kind of livestock, be it poultry or cattle or fish.
4. Farm Management:
Lastly, how you manage your respective farm also plays a significant role when it comes to having a lower FCR. It is imperative to provide your flock with an adequate environment. They should be well protected from varied climatic conditions such as high temperature, cold, rain, etc. Besides, feeding them well with adequate quantity – not too much and not too little, getting all your animals vaccinated for any pandemic or disease, providing them the protective environment, etc. are included in Farm Management. If you do all these, then you are sure to maintain a lower FCR. It is an elementary phenomenon; animals under extreme cold weather will consume more feed to keep themselves warm, thereby leading to higher FCR, which is not wise. Likewise, other factors also influence your FCR in the longer run. So, manage your farm adequately so that you can have lower FCR and increased productivity.
Other factors causing discomfort or difficulties in accessing water and feed, or animals’ aversion for specific types of feed, could lead to heterogeneous growth, health issues, eventually leading to significant drops in FCRs should be avoided altogether.
Now, it’s time to talk about the ways to achieve the best FCR. Let’s see what should be done to achieve the best FCR in livestock. Take a look on the tips….
Tips to Achieve Best FCR
1. Provide your livestock with the right environment
In order to achieve the best FCR, it is crucial to provide your livestock with the right environment. Flocks’ comfort and their access to water and feed should be taken into consideration. Not paying proper attention to this could lead to significant drops in FCRs.
2. Keep feed silos clean
It is essential to keep feed silos clean. Unwashed silos often lead to molds’ growth that consumes valuable nutrients from the food and produces mycotoxins. The moldy feed is not only distasteful but also toxic for animals. Especially in sultry and climatic conditions, mold growth is more, so proper care should be taken. Besides adding mycotoxin binder and a mold inhibitor, farm owners should also inspect silos periodically and clean them. This will help you greatly, and you will see exponential growth in your farm.
3. Use right kind of feeders
Using the right type of feeders for your livestock is as crucial as your livestock. Always invest in feeders that minimize feed wastage. Using the right kind of feeders for your livestock will allow you to avoid feed wastage. Yes, inadequate feeders could lead to food wastage that will ultimately affect your FCR. Apart from this, it is essential to keep your feeders clean, place them at a correct distance, and describe the number of birds per feeder. The number of birds or animals per feeder should not be too much.
4. Place your feeders and drinkers at the correct distance.
Correct placement of drinkers close to the feeders will also impact the FCR significantly. Your drinkers should not be placed too close to the feeders, as it can cause feed spoilage. A correct distance should be maintained while placing your feeders and drinkers. It will help you have the right FCR.
5. Don’t overfeed your flock
Overfeeding your flock will not only add to your feed cost, but also it will spoil your flock. Too many treats will eventually increase the cost of keeping a flock. Apart from this, overfeeding will also develop fatty tissue in their abdomens, thereby leading to a drop in FCRs.
3. Proper lighting program to be followed
Constant lighting program can affect your FCR adversely. For instance, if you keep lights on for 23 hours light and darkness for 1 hour, it won’t work efficiently. Actually, it is seen that livestock tend to consume more feed under constant lighting, which increases the feed rate passage. However, a lights-on, lights-off program works really well for the livestock, especially poultry birds. This means you have to keep lights on for 1 hour and for the next 1 hour, keep the lights off, and so on. Doing so will allow your birds to digest their feed while resting fully. This will significantly improve feed efficiency as the birds will not walk all day aimlessly. But make sure you provide your birds with enough feeding spaces.
4. Keep your flock healthy
It is vital to keep your birds or flock healthy. Know that unhealthy or sick livestock will never give you desirable outcomes; they won’t grow so well, no matter how good the feed quality is. Sick or subclinically affected birds don’t eat as much as healthy birds do. And whatever they, all that goes to fighting off the disease. Moreover, sick birds tend to break down muscle proteins that result in reduced body weight, thereby making feed efficiency the worst possible. Healthy birds, on the other hand, will utilize nutrients in the feed at maximal efficiency. Keep your flock healthy because subclinical diseases can lead to a drastic drop in FCR. Have a vet regularly check your flock to ensure there are no signs of subclinical illnesses.
5. Get your flock vaccinated for contagious diseases
Get your flock immunized on time and maintain proper hygiene, sanitation, strict biosecurity, and birds’ procurement from disease-free sources. As a poultry owner, you must get your poultry vaccinated for contagious diseases. Apart from this, you can also have a vet regularly check your flock to ensure no symptoms for any infectious diseases affecting your flock. Recovered livestock are a reservoir of infection, make sure you remove them from the flock. Doing so will help you keep your flock in the best shape all the time and grow your animal husbandry business.
6. Follow guidelines as per the market
To attain specific market age or market weight, you will need to follow your contracting partner’s guidelines. However, if you plan to sell in an open market, maintaining the right FCR with aging birds would be a tad bit tough. This is because birds have a greater body mass to uphold each day — and maintenance requires both energy and amino acids. So, finding the minimum weight per bird that is acceptable will also impact feed efficiency.
Follow these tips and achieve the best FCR in livestock. Feed conversion ratio or FCR is an excellent tool to measure the feed intake per unit output. The lower the FCR, the better the performance of your farm. Animals with lower FCR are considered best, as they convert feed to output efficiently. The simplest way to reduce the cost of production is lower FCRs. It would help if you always targeted lower FCRs to increase productivity at your farm. Hope this post helps you achieve the best FCR in livestock!!