AIMING for a better feed conversion ratio in beef rations can seriously improve your wealth, according to one leading nutritionist.
With feed accounting for 60-80% of beef production variable costs, improvements in how much of it is useable can have three times the impact on profitability than increases in liveweight gain (LWG), claims KW’s Dr Anna Sutcliffe.
“Beef cattle FCR 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,” she explained.
“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 AHDB, FCR can deteriorate from around 8.3:1 at 450kg liveweight to 10.7:1 by the time cattle reach 650kg, and 12.5:1 or more if cattle are still being fed at 750kg.
“This means that it can take up to 51% more feed to gain 1kg of liveweight if cattle are kept too long and finished at too heavy a weight,” Dr Sutcliffe pointed out.
“So although reducing environmental stresses and disease challenge is critical, focussing on growing cattle quickly, early and finishing at lighter weights is one of the best ways to reduce beef costs and increase in margin per head.