Learn how to improve Feed Conversion ratio (FCR) in Poultry

10 ways to Improve FCR in Poultry Farm

 Table of Contents:

  1. Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR)
  2. Types of FCR
  3. 10 Tips to improve FCR in Poultry
  4. Conclusion 

Feed Conversion Ratio

Feed conversion ratio (FCR) is parameter of bird’s effectiveness in converting feed into increased body weight. FCR may be defined as weight gain divided by feed intake.
FCR= Feed Intake/Weight Gain
Improving FCR means reducing feed cost to rear chicken. 

Broiler Farm (Credit: Getty Images)

Types of FCR

FCR is usually divided into two sub-types; Biological FCR and Economics of FCR. Biological FCR is the net amount of feed used to produce one kg of broiler, while the economics FCR takes into account all the feed used including the effect of feed losses and mortalities.
The technical FCR is the total amount of ingested feed divided by the number of birds that have exited the house.

The economic FCR is the total amount of feed ingested divided by the weight of poultry birds that can be accepted at the slaughterhouse.

The corrected FCR at fixed weight is the average ratio of different flocks considering that they have all been slaughtered at the same weight.

The corrected FCR at fixed age is determined by estimating the weight that these chickens might have reached at the same age, depending on what they have consumed.
The FCR and hence, the amount of feed ingested, are the major variables that can help to set the cost of a poultry bird. Depending on the species and countries considered, the share of feed makes up 40 to 70% of cost production. Poultry, including broiler, remain the species whose FCR is the lowest (it can be as low as 1.5).
FCR is most important parameter affecting the economics and ratio of 1:1 seems to be most efficient one. Apparently it seems impossible that feeding one kilogram feed will fetch one kilogram of broiler meat because 100% retention of nutrients is not possible because there are some losses which are unavoidable in a biological system like heat increment, incomplete amino acids, environmental losses, etc. 
On detail analysis of the fact it is realized that 1 kg feed has 11% moisture (i.e having 90% dry matter) while the live weight of broiler is in kg of “wet” weight (i.e having 39% dry matter). Broiler meat with skin contains 69% water according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meaning that 1 kg live weight will have approximately 300 gm dry matter in it. It implies that to achieve 1 kg live weight in broiler (300 gm dry matter) only 40% of nutrients from 1kg feed (900 gm dry matter) should get deposited to give 1 kg live broiler weight.
In a nutshell, Feed conversion ratio (FCR) is a measure of how efficiently a bird converts feed mass into muscle mass.
Low FCR is desired which means more output is produced with less feed intake.

10 Tips to Improve FCR in Poultry Farm

After the feed arrives at the farm, there are 10 ways that to get better feed efficiency in poultry farm and to ensure broilers take the most out of the feed they are given on any farm:
1. Avoid hot spots in Feed silos:

Molds consume valuable nutrients and produce mycotoxins. Moldy feed is not only unpalatable, but toxic as well. Quite often, feed is delivered into silos that are never cleaned. In humid and warm climates, mold growth is easy to occur, and even in apparently empty silos, there are hot spots (patches of old moldy feed adhering to the inside surfaces of silos) that can spoil the next batch of fresh feed.Silos must be periodically inspected and cleaned thoroughly.
2. A factor that greatly enhances feed efficiency is the correct placement of drinkers close to the feeders, but not so close as to cause feed spoilage.
3. Use feeders that don’t waste feed
Make sure use of efficient feeders to stop wastage of feed.
Feeders should also be clean, well placed according to number of birds per feeder.
4. Lighting Frequency
Keep in mind that a constant lighting program (such as 23 hours light and 1 hour darkness) is not best in terms of feed digestibility. Under constant lighting, birds will over-consume feed, which increases feed rate passage. And extra feed they consume has limited time to interact with digestive enzymes, resulting in reduced feed digestibility. 
In contrast, a lights-on, lights-off program (for example, 1 hour light, 1 hour darkness, and so on) allows birds to fully digest their feed while resting (which also improves feed efficiency as birds do not walk aimlessly all day), and gives them enough time to “refill” during light hours. 

5. Improve Feeding Spaces 
There should be enough feeding spaces for all birds to eat simultaneously. If birds are uncomfortable, they will not intake required feed and FCR will not improve.

6. Keep birds healthy
Sick birds do not grow, and if they do not grow, feed efficiency is never ideal. Sick or sub clinical affected birds don’t eat as much as healthy birds, and what they eat usually goes to fighting off the disease. In addition, they might even break down muscle proteins, which reduces their body weight, making feed efficiency the worst possible. In contrast, healthy birds, especially those with a very healthy digestive system, will utilize nutrients in the feed at maximum efficiency. 
7. Avoid Heavy body weight gain
If you need to attain a certain market age or market weight, keep in mind that feed efficiency becomes a bit worse with each day, the birds age. This is due to the fact that birds have a greater body mass to maintain each day — and maintenance requires both energy and amino acids. Of course, this does not necessarily mean maximal profitability, and to this end, other parameters should be consulted: cost per weight gain, or weight gain per given floor surface, etc. 

8. Bird's comfort and their access to water and feed
Any element likely to cause discomfort, difficulties in accessing water and feed could lead to poor growth and health issues. The eventual impact may lead to significant drops in FCRs.

9. Feed Quality: Chicks that are fed a diet that meet their nutritional requirement will have lower FCR. Nutritional requirement varies with the age of the bird. For broilers, there are chick starter and broiler finisher. For layers there are chick starter, grower and then layers mash. More complex feeding for layers can also include developer and pre-lay rations. All these feed were formulated to satisfy nutrient requirements at different stages of growth.

10. Good Management Practices (GMPs): This has to do with the welfare of birds. Are they well protected from high temperature stress or cold stress. Do you feed them well? Do you have measures in place to protect the them from infection? Birds under cold weather consume more feed to keep warm and this will lead to higher FCR than when the weather is fair.


Feed conversion ratio (FCR) measures the feed intake per unit output (eggs, meat). The lower the FCR the lesser the feed cost. Birds with low FCR are efficient in converting feed to output. If you want to reduce your cost of production, reduce the FCR.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to reduce feed cost in broiler farming?

Feed cost can be reduced by improving FCR. Lower the FCR, lower will be the feed cost.

What is best FCR for broiler/poultry?

Ideal FCR is 1, if feed intake and weight gain are equal but it can not be achieved because 100% retention of nutrients is not possible because there are some losses which are unavoidable in a biological system like heat increment, incomplete amino acids, environmental losses, etc. But in realtime, we can achieve FCR as low as 1.5 value.

How to calculate Feed conversion ratio (FCR) in broilers?

FCR is calculated by simple formula: weight gain divided by feed intake. FCR = Weight gain / Feed Intake

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