IMPROVING the feed conversion ratio (FCR) in beef production can have three times the impact on profitability than increases in liveweight gain (LWG) when feed accounts for 60-80% of beef production variable costs
According to Charlotte Ward, nutritionist at KW, the FCR of beef cattle is affected by a number of factors, such as genetics, health and the environment, but some of the greatest gains come from adapting feeding strategies to maximise early growth.
“This is when cattle are most efficient at converting feed into LWG, resulting in the lowest feed costs per kg of gain.”
According to figures from EBLEX, FCR can deteriorate from around 8.3:1 at 450kg LW to 10.7:1 by the time cattle reach 650kg LW, and 12.5:1 or more if cattle are still being fed at 750kg LW.
“It means that it can take up to 51% more feed to gain 1kg LW if cattle are kept too long and finished at too heavy a weight,” Ms Ward highlights.
“Although reducing environmental stresses and disease is critical, growing cattle quickly, early and finishing at lighter weights is one of the best ways to reduce beef costs and increase margins per head.”