Feed conversion ratio (FCR)
Total feed consumed
Product type
Initial animal(s) weight
Final animal(s) weight
Total weight gain by the animal(s)
Feed cost
Weight of feed bought
Expected return
Cost of feed per unit weight
Total cost of feed

The feed conversion ratio calculator, or the FCR calculator, is a valuable tool to determine the amount of feed needed to get an animal to a specific weight, compare the feed conversion yield for various feeds, and estimate the cost of raising an animal.

Anyone can use this tool, whether you're a farmer 🤠 interested in animal husbandry, such as beef feed conversion, or you're merely interested in estimating how long it'll take your cat or goldfish to grow to a certain weight. Finding the feed conversion ratio, or feed conversion rate, is an essential metric when budgeting feed cost as it helps you evaluate how well an animal utilizes the feed it consumes. Hence, it's a great tool to analyze your swine feed conversion, the feed conversion ratio for beef cattle or a cattle feed to weight gain ratio, or to deduce the FCR calculation formula in poultry.

This article will explain the FCR meaning as relationship between the amount of food fed and animal's growth and productivity. This will help you understand feed conversion and how to raise animals efficiently. If you're interested in evaluating your agribusiness's profitability, then you may want to check out the margin calculator and the margin of safety calculator. They are crucial tools to assess your animal production cycle's profitability 💰. Also check out the plant population calculator for planning your pasture.

What is the feed conversion ratio? FCR meaning

We are what we eat! So are our farm animals, but unlike us, they're not knowledgeable about nutrition (or are they? 🤔) – if we allow them free-range or source their food, it's unlikely they'll grow fast, fat, and pick the most nutritious food. It is our responsibility to show love to our animals by giving them high-quality and palatable feed. By providing supplementary or complete feeding, we will support increased growth, promote animal health, and facilitate reproduction.

But how much feed is needed to grow a chicken 🐔, pig 🐷, fish 🐟, or even a snail 🐌, large enough for it to attain table weight or for us to have a market-sized animal? The feed conversion ratio (FCR) provides the relationship between feed consumed and feed efficiency, which helps us answer this crucial question.

The feed conversion ratio calculator determines the number of feed units an animal uses to produce one product unit in a growing cycle:

  • For animals raised for meat, FCR is the feed needed for the animal to gain a pound or kilogram of body weight;

  • For dairy animals where milk is the primary product, FCR is the amount of feed it takes to produce a pint or liter of milk; and

  • For Layer poultry with eggs as the primary product, **FCR is the amount of feed the birds need to produce a pound of eggs, kilogram of eggs, or a dozen eggs:

    FCR (per dozen eggs) = Total feed consumed * 12 / Total eggs produced

    More about how to calculate the FCR formulas below.

The feed conversion ratio is simply the input (feed) divided by output (meat, milk, or eggs) from an animal production enterprise. It is a key performance indicator that reveals how efficiently the animal converts feed into a product. With good recordkeeping, you can calculate animals' feed conversion rate monthly, quarterly, annually, or on a flock or farmhouse basis to determine the mathematical relationship between a fixed amount of the feed animals consumed, the output, the cost, and economic profit involved in raising them.

An important point to note is that most of what an animal eats is converted into some tissue or contributes to body mass. However, some animals are better at converting what they eat to weight gain than others. This phenomenon refers to an animal's growth efficiency. At various stages, the growth efficiency of an animal varies. Young and small-sized animals generally have a better growth efficiency than adult animals because they expend less energy, which allows the bulk of what they consume to go towards their growth.

Also, aquatic animals, especially fish, tend to do better than land animals. Land animals use the food they consume for maintenance, support, and growth or to produce heat and keep warm. But aquatic animals have adapted without the need to maintain a constant body temperature and so use more of their food to gain weight. Therefore, a pig feed conversion ratio or swine feed conversion would be higher than that of chicken, and a cow will require more food to gain 1 kg in weight than a tilapia.

FCR: 🐡 >>> 🐣 >>> 🐄

How to calculate FCR? Feed conversion rate formula

The Feed conversion ratio (FCR) is:

FCR = Total feed consumed / Total weight of product produced,


  • Total weight of product produced = final weight of the product – starting weight of the product

Notice that FCR is calculated based on the weight produced or gained, not just the animal's weight. The two variables (feed weight and weight gained) must be in the same unit when calculating FCR. But you don't have to worry about weight conversion when using the FCR calculator; fill in the information you have available.

You can also carry out a comprehensive analysis – economic and technical – on a farm's balance sheet by evaluating the values of FCR-derived parameters using the following formulas:

  • Economic FCR = Total feed consumed / Total weight of animals accepted at a slaughterhouse,


    Total weight of animals accepted at the slaughterhouse = Weight of life-sized meat – the weight of by-products (e.g., feathers, hide, and skin)

    Economic FCR is referred to as Edible-weight FCR because it estimates FCR after an animal has been slaughtered and dressed. Thus, the Economic FCR reveals precisely how much feed an animal converted to flesh after removing the bones and other non-edible parts.

  • Technical FCR = Total feed consumed / Number of animals that exited farmhouse

    The difference between the economic and technical FCRs is that Economic FCR shows precisely how much of the feed an animal consumed was turned into meat. Simultaneously, the Technical FCR reveals a farm's productivity by including all animals that left the farmhouse feeding regimen - both animals that arrived at the slaughterhouse and those that were lost due to factors influencing mortality. You check out the animal mortality rate calculator to learn how to manage animal mortality on your farm.

Both the Economic and Technical FCRs provide farm businesses a more accurate view of profitability. You can calculate these parameters using the advanced mode of the feed conversion ratio calculator.

How to compare animal feed quality using FCR to ascertain feed efficiency?

Example 1: Using feed conversion ratio to compare and choose animal feeds

Let's demonstrate the FCR calculation formula in poultry: Suppose a farmer purchased chicken feeds from two feed mills. Let's call them Feed-A and Feed-B. He found that the chickens require 2.5 kg of Feed-A to gain 1 kg weight:

Feed-A FCR = 2.5 kg feed / 1 kg chicken weight = 2.5

However, the chickens require only 1.8 kg of Feed-B to gain 1 kg of weight:

Feed-B FCR = 1.8 kg feed / 1 kg fish = 1.8

If the farmer observed the results under the same conditions, they'd prefer Feed-B because it produces a better result with less feed.

Hence, when a feed has a low FCR, less feed is required for the animals to gain weight relative to a higher FCR feed. A low FCR indicates a high-quality feed. Therefore, maintaining a low FCR in growing animals is an excellent way to reduce the cost of production in the face of increasing feeds cost and other overheads, keeping the agricultural enterprise profitable.

But why is there such a difference in the FCR result between the two feeds?

Factors influencing FCR in farm animals

The factors that can influence FCR results vary between:

  • Different animal species and genetic makeup;
  • Stage of the animal's growth;
  • The animals' health;
  • Quality and nutritional component of the feed; and
  • Environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, light intensity, space) impacting the animals' comfort.

Suppose you're confident that your animals' growing conditions are satisfactory and you consistently get a poor FCR. In that case, an excellent place to start investigating your animals' feed usage is to check for feed wastage. Perhaps you offered more than the animals need? Feed wastage can significantly affect the FCR value during calculations, providing you a false value of feed conversion if you don't account for it. You can avoid feed wastage by using specialized feeders to feed your animals. Asides from feed wastage, providing more than the needed amount of feed to your animals can also result in overfeeding. Just as obesity hurts us humans, overfeeding your animals can negatively impact animals' feed conversion rate. With the feed conversion ratio calculator, you can find out exactly how much feed is optimum.

Next, you want to check the feed's nutritional components to ensure the animals are being fed a proper diet at each stage of growth. Growing animals eat a lot! So, if you notice your animals aren't eating up to 2 - 4% of their body weight daily, you probably want to check the animals' health or the feed's palatability. Everybody wants a delicious meal, even animals! 😋 Finally, you want to check the protein content of the feed. Animals convert protein to weight gain when they are well-fed. So, the more protein content in the feed, the lower the FCR.

Consequently, protein diets are usually more expensive per kilogram to purchase because it requires less feed to grow the animals. In this case, you will have to determine the cost-effectiveness of using a costlier high-protein-content diet or its cheaper alternative. But bear in mind that animal husbandry is a long-term game. Luckily, our feed conversion ratio calculator can also work as a comparison tool for budgeting your feed cost expenses.

How to budget using feed conversion ratio?

Example 2: Using FCR to plan feed expense

From example 1, assuming that the feed mill produced Feed-A with a 24% protein diet resulting in an FCR of 2.5.

If the goal is to produce 1,000 kg of chicken, the farmer will require:

Expected Return = 1000 kg of chicken

= 1000 kg * 2.5 = 2500 kg of Feed-A.

If the feed costs $800 per kilogram, then the complete feed for the growing cycle using Feed-A will be:

$800 * 2500 = $2,000,000

If Feed-B, which has an FCR of 1.8, comprises a 34% protein diet and costs $1000 per kilogram because of the higher protein content. It means that to grow the same 1,000kg of chicken, the farmer will require:

1000 * 1.8 = 1,800 kg of Feed-B.

The total cost to feed the chickens the higher quality Feed-B will be:

= $1000 * 1800 = $1,800,000

Thus, it will cost $200,000 more to feed the animals with low-quality feed in the long run if your Expected Return on the investment is 1000 kg of chicken. But at face value, you'll probably think it was the cheaper option because of the $200 markup on the high-protein diet per kilogram.

It's always good to favor high-quality feed for your animals because higher protein feeds result in faster growth rates and economic turnover. However, you should still **analyze and confirm the most cost-effective way of achieving your goal - **profit maximization. Sometimes, other factors may affect the feed purchasing decision that'll favor using a cheaper alternative to feed animals.

Let's consider another example...

Example 3:

A farmer buys 1000 Pangasius catfish weighing 0.20 lbs each. They are grown to an average weight of 1 lb. The total feed they consumed in the growing period was 1800 lbs. What is the fish feed conversion ratio?

Using the FCR formula:

FCR = Total pound of fish feed fed / Total pounds of fish weight gain

Total feed given equals 1800 lbs.

Step 1: Estimate the total weight of fish at the beginning of the growing cycle

1000 fishes * 0.20 lbs = 200 lbs fish

Step 2: Work out the total weight of fish at the end of the growing cycle

1000 fishes * 1.0 lb = 1000 lbs

Step 3: Compute the total weight gain

Total weight of product produced = final weight – starting weight

= 1000 lbs – 200 lbs = 800 lbs

Step 4: Determine the FCR

FCR = 1800 lbs feed / 800 lbs fish = 2.25.

Therefore, the feed conversion ratio of the fish the farmer grew is 2.25, which is an impressive result.

Given the information on FCR above, the farmer can project how much it will cost to feed the Pangasius catfish by adding price into the equation.

If the fish feed costs $300/metric ton, and the farmer wants to invest $15,000, he can afford to buy:

$15,000 / $300 = 50 metric tons of fish food.

How many pounds of Pangasius catfish should the farmer expect to grow? Recall that the last growing cycle revealed an FCR of 2.25.

To determine how many pounds of fishes the farmer can grow with the investment, we will have to follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Find out how many pounds are in 50 metric tons:

1 metric ton = 2,204.62 lbs

50 metric tons = 50 * 2204.62 lbs 

= 110,231 lbs

Therefore, the 50 tons of fish feed will weigh 110,231 lbs.

Step 2: Use the FCR to find the pounds of fish that can be grown with 110,231 lbs:

If 2.25 lbs produce 1 lb of fish, then 110,230 lbs will produce:

110,230 / 2.25 lbs of fish
= 48,991.55 lbs of fish.

The result means the farmer will expect to grow around 48,991.55 pounds of fish with a $15,000 investment in fish food. With the feed conversion ratio calculator, you don't have to go through the rigors - just provide the information you have to get your results 🙂.

Again, it is essential to note that FCR varies with different animals, feed diets, and changes as the animal grows.

For aquatic animals, the FCR can be influenced by:

  • The quality of water;
  • The pond management system;
  • Temperature levels;
  • The method and time of feeding; and
  • The health of the fish.

Typically, aside from poultry birds reared in an enclosed house, fish have one of the best feed conversion ratios. It is even possible to get an FCR of less than 1. Although this is a rarity, it can happen under two conditions:

  1. If the fish is grown in a pond with a lot of natural food, then it would eat both the feed you provide and the natural feed and grow better. You would then find that you do not contribute all of the feed for the resulting weight gain.

  2. Under a highly efficient management system, fish can convert the feed provided into moist flesh. That means when you weigh them versus the weight of the dried feed, which does not contain any water, they tend to be heavier, resulting in a low FCR. But if you dry the fishes to the same degree as the feed fed to them, it becomes impossible to get an FCR below 1.

Average FCR for different farm animals

On average, the feed conversion ratio for some farm animals are as follows:

AnimalAverage FCR
Cattle 🐄8.0 – 12.0
Pig 🐖3.0 – 3.9
Rabbits 🐇3.5 – 5.0
Goat 🐐 and sheep 🐑4.5 on high concentrate feed,
5.5 on good quality forage,
30 on straw ration.
Chicken 🐔---
Broilers 🍗1.5 – 2.0
Layers 🥚2.0 per kg of eggs,
330 – 360 eggs per year
Fish 🐟---
Tilapia 1.6 – 1.8
Catfish1.5 – 5.0

The table shows that a beef feed conversion ratio is also higher than a pig feed conversion ratio. In optimum feeding conditions, goats and sheep feed conversion ratios are better than when fed straw rations.

Agricultural projections are dynamic; they change regularly as the conditions surrounding production change. So, farmers often produce more or less than the projected pounds or kilos of product calculated. However, the projected values still serve as a benchmark. Notwithstanding, improving FCR is critical to master animal husbandry because a low FCR is directly proportional to feed cost. Keeping good written records of your farming activities will allow you to determine an accurate FCR for your specific animal and feed combination.

How to Improve FCR?

Some of the ways you can improve your animals' FCR are:

  • Feed animals the correct diet at the appropriate portion for animals to absorb the optimal nutrients they need.

  • Provide a comfortable atmosphere for the animals to grow and utilize the feed they eat.

  • Monitor and manage animal health closely through proper biosecurity measures and vaccinations.

  • Provide suitable housing with adequate spacing for the animals to exercise in while restricting unwanted movements so animals can conserve energy for growth.

Advantages of FCR

The feed conversion ratio calculator is a powerful tool to help anyone:

  • Estimate the feed required in an animal's growing cycle, which amounts to about 70% of production cost.

  • Make budgetary plans for a complete growing cycle and determine the animals' sale price.

  • Gain valuable insights on the profitability of raising an animal so that farmers can make wise decisions in selecting and using feed for profit maximization.

  • Determine if an animal is an efficient or a poor feed converter.

  • Evaluate and compare the efficiency of different feeds.

  • Provide a benchmark for farm managers 📊.

  • Allow aquaculture enterprises to increase a pond's carrying capacity for fish because there will be less waste polluting the water.

  • Carry out industry analysis and economic valuations of a farm economy - By understanding the FCR for specific farm animals, agriculture economists can estimate the market's value and size in a particular locality or scale. For instance, if available data shows that 10 million broilers were reared and sold within a year in a country at an average FCR of 1.5:1 kg, we can estimate that the feed market produced 15 million kilograms of feed for broiler birds in that year. If the average cost for the feed per kilogram for the year the data was collected is $10, then the broiler feed market is a $150 million market 📈. This is a simplistic example since many other variables come into play when analyzing an industry. You can check out our EBITDA calculator if you want to learn more about valuations.

Limitations of FCR

Some of the limitations to applying the FCR technique in evaluating feed efficiency are:

  • FCR can provide misleading estimates if you do not account for feed wastage. If calculations are made based on feed delivered to a farm instead of feed consumed by the animals, it will alter the actual FCR result.

  • For an FCR comparison to be relevant, a farmer has to compare feeds or animals reared in similar conditions, i.e., same animal species, genetic lineage, feeding ration, production system, and environmental conditions.

  • Management style and feed components have different FCR results when combined differently.

  • FCR values calculated by weighing an entire animal population would be more accurate than calculated using a sample size. When a farm has an enormous animal population, say 1000+ animals, it may be impossible to weigh each animal without the right infrastructure. A farmer will have to collect a sample size representative of the entire population to determine the FCR. The larger the sample, the closer the result will be to the actual FCR value.

  • Mortality rate can make FCR application less practical. Assuming a farmer has been calculating the FCR of an animal population from the start of the growing season, if the animal dies towards the end of the growing cycle, all the animal's weighted values have to be deducted from the overall result. Otherwise, the mortality rate will impact the FCR. This problem makes it even more critical to register farm activities and deliver performance adjustments regularly. The technical FCR helps to account this problem.


What does FCR stand for?

FCR stands for feed conversion ratio. It is the ratio that measures how efficiently an animal uses the feed it consumes to produce one unit of output (such as 1 kg of meat, egg, or a liter of milk).

How to calculate FCR in broiler?

You can calculate the FCR in broiler by using the FCR calculation formula in poultry:

FCR = Total feed consumed / Total weight of product produced

How to improve FCR in poultry?

Four ways to improve FCR in poultry:

  • Feed your poultry birds adequately with quality feed.
  • Provide a comfortable atmosphere for the birds to grow.
  • Monitor and manage the birds' health through proper biosecurity measures and vaccinations.
  • Provide suitable housing with adequate spacing for the animals to roam.

How to calculate feed conversion ratio for cattle?

To calculate the feed conversion ratio for cattle, follow these steps:

  1. Calculate the total feed consumed by the cattle for a given period or season;

  2. Then, calculate the total weight gain by the cattle in the same period. You will have to deduct the new weight of the cattle from the weight of the cattle before you began the feed regimen.

  3. Use the FCR formula to determine the feed conversion ratio or FCR:

FCR = Total feed consumed / Total weight of gained by the cattle

How to get a better feed conversion on broiler chickens?

You can get a better FCR for your poultry by comparing different feeds' efficiency using the FCR formula and selecting the feed with the best FCR value. The better feed, the lesser the FCR value.

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