• Posted by Anitox

Producer's Guide to Improving Feed Conversion Ratios

A growing global population necessitates efficient meat and egg production. Efficiency in animal production is defined by the conversion of feed into meat, also known as a feed conversion ratio. As such, feed is central to animal production and plays an important role in animal growth and performance. Implementing strategies to promote and protect feed quality can enable producers' ability to enhance animal performance and meet the growing demand for meat.

Improve Your Feed Quality Today.

Factors Impacting Feed-To-Meat Conversion

Feed conversion is highly dependent on the type of livestock and its age and genetics. For example, poultry converts feed to meat more efficiently than swine, and younger animals convert feed to meat faster than older animals. Despite the obvious differences between species, different genetic lines of the same species can have different target feed conversion rates. These are factors that producers have very little control over beyond selecting the type of livestock raised. However, the genetic potential for feed-to-meat conversion can be supported by several other factors, as described below.

Feed Formulation

Each type of genetics has very specific nutritional requirements designed to help producers reach the animal's highest potential. Nutritionists spend a significant amount of time, energy and money formulating optimal rations for each stage of growth. The fact that feed makes up a significant proportion of a producer's cost, justifies the efforts to optimize the formulation.

Feed Quality

Feed nutritional value plays a crucial role in the health and performance of food-producing animals, as it directly impacts gut health. Optimal feed quality not only facilitates efficient growth but also supports gut health directly by providing essential nutrients and indirectly through its support of the gut microbiota, leading to optimal physiological health and function. While nutritionists typically focus on feed formulation for quality improvement, physical form and microbial content are also key factors. Research suggests that reducing microbial levels in feed can improve broiler performance and producer profitability. Improving pellet quality in broilers has been proven to reduce fines production, enhance feed conversion rates, and minimize wastage.

Animal Health

feed conversion ratiosHealth is crucial for optimal growth and feed efficiency. Animals fighting pathogens and illness have reduced growth and efficiency. This reduced growth is in part due to the energetic costs of fighting off disease. Even in the absence of clinical signs of disease, subclinical illnesses may lead to a decline in feed conversion ratio. Therefore, it is critical to support animal health by maintaining flock or herd health through disease-free stock, immunization, biosecurity to ensure environmental hygiene, and feed sourcing and sanitation.

Housing and Management

Housing and management has a direct impact on animal health and performance as it determines the environment in which animals grow. Animal production systems and management practices are designed to support animal welfare, safety, health and efficiency.

Housing and management practices that can be used to optimize feed conversion and animal health include:

  • Providing a comfortable environment with access to clean water and feed
  • Using feeders that minimize waste
  • Maintaining a proper distance between feeders and drinkers to prevent spoilage
  • Avoiding overfeeding to reduce costs and maintain flock or herd health

Feed conversion ratiosStrategies to Support FCR Improvement

Feed form and microbial quality are crucial factors in determining feed quality. Pathogens present in feed can lead to diseases and increased mortality rates in livestock. Maintaining proper moisture levels is critical as the failure to do so can adversely affect both microbial quality and feed form. Better pellet quality reduces fines, improves feed conversion and minimizes waste.

Reduce Feed Microbial Loads

High microbial loads in poultry feed can impact animal health and performance by affecting gastrointestinal function and microbiome balance. High microbial pathogen prevalence in feed can lead to colonization and microbiota imbalance or dysbiosis, reducing performance and health.

Research has shown that the health and performance of poultry are heavily influenced by the physiological health of the gut and the microbiota. Maintaining this balance is crucial to protecting the integrity of intestinal tissues and preventing disease. High microbial loads within feed can challenge the microbiome, leading to a shift in the microbial population and dysbiosis. Studies indicate that lowering microbial levels in feed can enhance broiler performance and benefit the producer's bottom line.

Improve Pellet Quality

Poor pellet quality results in higher fines production, leading to an uneven distribution of essential nutrients within the feed formula. Poor feed quality, failure to meet nutrient demand and the need to overformulate diets can financially impact producers by decreasing animal performance, lowering feed quality and increasing feed costs.

Enhancing pellet quality has been proven to enhance feed conversion rates, decrease fines production, boost feed efficiency, and minimize wastage.

To learn more about how feed pathogen control and milling efficiency can support your efforts to improve feed conversion ratios, talk to a clean feed expert today.