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Beef Feed Efficiency

Beef herd at feed face

What is Feed Conversion Efficiency?

Feed Conversion Efficiency (FCE) in beef production can be described as how well an animal converts feed into meat. This is found by calculating how many kilograms of live weight gain can be achieved from a tonne of dry matter (DM) feed. This can range from 60–300 kg of growth per tonne of DM.

Feed is the most significant cost of producing beef and, as such, is an important bearing on total feed cost/kg gain. When determining the cost of home-grown feeds, such as silage and cereals, input costs, such as fuel and fertiliser, should be considered. Other cost contributors to overall yield, utilisation and the avoidance of waste should also be taken into account.

For purchased feeds, the cost is largely dependent upon buying decisions, although it is essential to minimise/avoid wastage — particularly with moist feeds. Out of these feed input costs, the most important factor affecting overall feed cost/kg gain is FCE.

How to achieve reductions in feed costs?

By targeting, estimating and controlling FCE, you can achieve significant reductions in feed cost/kg gain, especially in the finishing period, when FCE is often poorer due to the increased energy costs of fat deposition. It follows that measurement and improvement of FCE should be a major key performance indicator of beef production.

The MechFiber Difference

KEENAN MechFiber diet feeders are unique in the proven nutritional benefits they deliver. Each KEENAN is engineered to use a gentle mixing action to produce an evenly and thoroughly mixed, light and fluffy ration that is never over- or under-processed. We call this optimal mix ‘MechFiber’. Independent trials have consistently shown that MechFiber retains the fibre structure to stimulate rumination, allowing greater absorption of energy and maximised FCE*. The composition of the MechFiber ration is such that it also slows the passage of feed through the digestive tract allowing more time for digestion. Synced to the InTouch feed management platform, the KEENAN controller ensures all feed ingredients are consistently added in the correct order and ratio.

By improving FCE through the provision of a well-mixed ration, rumen function can be optimised, even in situations where diets show high levels of starch.

Take control of your feed costs

The impact of the KEENAN system in terms of loading and mixing accuracy applies equally to beef systems as it does dairy. However, assessing FCE within the context of a beef system is not as immediately apparent as with a dairy system. This is because performance, in terms of weight gain, cannot be recorded daily, as would be the case with milk yield. At best, an assessment would have to be made based on weights taken at 3–4-week intervals. However, many farmers still do not weigh their cattle regularly.

Using well-developed models to predict animal growth from several easily defined inputs, the InTouch system can monitor the weekly performance of beef cattle, predict FCE, measure total feed costs and provide an estimation of total feed cost/kg gain. This data informs regular decisions regarding the most appropriate feeding strategy.

* University of Illinois 2008, University of Reading 2008 & Coleman et al, 2011. Professional Animal Scientist, 27, 505-17


MechFiber Mix – The KEENAN MechFiber ration retains the fibre structure to stimulate rumination, allows a greater absorption of energy and maximises feed conversion efficiency.

Beef FCE – Feed Conversion Efficiency in beef production can range from 60kgs to 300kgs of growth per tonne of DM.

KEENAN - Synced to the InTouch feed management platform, the KEENAN controller ensures that all feed ingredients are added in the correct order and ratio. The resulting mix is consistent and maximises the intake and passage of food through the digestive system.