Feed conversion ratio
In animal husbandry, feed conversion ratio (FCR), feed conversion rate, or feed conversion efficiency (FCE), is a measure of an animal's efficiency in converting feed mass into increased the desired output; for dairy cows the output is milk, while for beef cows, pigs, chickens, and fish, the output is the mass gained by the animal. It is a function of the animal's genetics and age, the quality of the feed, and the conditions in which the animal is kept.
Animals that have a low FCR are considered efficient users of feed. However, comparisons of FCR among different species may be of little significance unless the feeds involved are of similar quality and suitability. The U.S. pork industry claims to have an FCR of 3.0-3.2. Farm raised Atlantic salmon have a very good FCR, about 1.2, according to farmed salmon industry representatives. When taking into account the true mass of material needed to make fish feed, however, the conversion ratio increases dramatically to 3:1 according to some sources.
For cattle, a FCR range from less than 5 to more than 20 kg feed dry matter per kg gain may be encountered. Some data for sheep illustrate variation of FCR. A FCR (kg feed dry matter intake per kg live mass gain) for lambs is often in the range of about 4 to 5 on high-concentrate rations, 5 to 6 on some forages of good quality, and more than 6 on feeds of lesser quality. On a diet of straw, which has a low metabolizable energy concentration, FCR of lambs may be as high as 40. Other things being equal, FCR tends to be higher for older lambs (e.g. 8 months) than younger lambs (e.g. 4 months). Although FCR is commonly calculated using feed dry mass, it is sometimes calculated on an as-fed wet mass basis, (or in the case of grains and oilseeds, sometimes on a wet mass basis at standard moisture content), with feed moisture resulting in higher ratios. In cold weather, metabolizable energy requirements for warmth may result in less net energy of gain obtained from feed. Thus, when communicating FCR data for a species, it can be desirable to specify feed moisture content and provide information regarding breed, age, feed composition, and environmental conditions under which the ratio applies, to facilitate data interpretation.
"Efficiency" is customarily expressed as the ratio of useful output to input. Thus, although FCR is commonly expressed as the ratio of feed mass input to body mass output, one sometimes sees "feed conversion efficiency" (FCE) figures, i.e. kg body mass gain per kg feed intake (or, in the case of dairy animals, kg milk solids per kg feed intake).
- Dairy Australia Feed Conversion Efficiency
- Dan Shike, University of Illinois Beef Cattle Feed Efficiency
- Pork production
- Feed conversion rate for chickens
- USAID Technical Bulletin #07: Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR): How to calculate it and how it is used
- Quick Facts - The Pork Industry at a Glance
- Brown, L., Hindmarsh, R., Mcgregor, R., 2001. Dynamic Agriculture Book Three (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill Book Company, Sydney.
- National Research Council. 2000. Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle. National Academy Press. 232 pp.
- Knott, S. A., B. J. Leury, L. J. Cummins, F. D. Brien and F. R. Dunshea. 2003. Relationship between body composition, net feed intake and gross feed conversion efficiency in composite sire line sheep. In: Souffrant, W. B. and C. C. Metges (eds.). Progress in research on energy and protein metabolism. EAAP publ. no. 109. Wageningen
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- National Research Council. 2007. Nutrient requirements of small ruminants. National Academies Press. 362 pp.
- Fahmy, M. H., J. M. Boucher, L. M. Pose, R. Grégoire, G. Butler and J. E. Comeau. 1992. Feed efficiency, carcass characteristics, and sensory quality of lambs, with or without prolific ancestry, fed diets with different protein supplements. J. Anim. Sci. 70: 1365-1374
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- National Research Council (Subcommittee on Environmental Stress). 1981. Effect of environment on nutrient requirements of domestic animals. National Academy Press, Washington. 168 pp.
- See, for example, definition 2a of "efficiency" at http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/efficiency