We live in a world where everyone talks about efficiency and profitability in the same breath, do the two go hand in hand Or is this just another modern Metric that means nothing.

The latest Buzz focuses on feed conversion efficiency ( FCE) And implies that if your feed is more efficiently used then you must by the very nature of that be more profitable. So let’s explore the theory.

### Forage and feed efficiency

Effectively this calculation divides milk produced in litres by total dry matter consumed. It takes no account of the cost.

If we look at a 45 L cow and her energy requirement, she will need roughly 75 MJ to maintain her and a further 238.5 MJ To produce the milk. Giving total energy required of 313.5 MJ, so any cow can fulfil this milk production via several methods.

So number one cow, Eats 12 kg of dry matter(DM) of forage at 11 ME, meaning she must eat 13.96 kg/DM of a 13 ME cake To fulfil her 45 L Output. The calculation is then 45 divided by 25.96 (13.96+12). This gives her a feed efficiency conversion of 1.73.

However, cow number two chooses to produce the same litres but by eating 12 kg/DM of cake and therefore is required to consume 14.32kg/DM of forage to achieve the energy required. The calculation is now 45 divided by 26.32. This gives cow number two a feed conversion efficiency of 1.71.

This demonstrates a small difference in feed efficiency, but presumably, the greater feed efficiency animal i.e. cow number one is more profitable?

Let’s apply costs of 26.4p per KG dry matter for the cake and 10.7p per KG of dry matter for the forage. We can now see that cow number one’s feed cost is £4.97 per day, whereas cow number two’s Feed cost is £4.70. Surely this cannot be right as number one cow was more efficient!

### Increasing feed efficiency

In this situation, this increased feed efficiency would lose you £54 per day or £1620 over a month for a 200 cow herd.

But silly me…… I just forgot that I have cow number 3 doing 45 litres off of 12kg/DM of forage just like number one, but she is eating 1kg/DM less cake. She has an eye-watering feed conversion efficiency of 1.8 and her feed costs are the same as cow number two’s.

THIS is true feed efficiency and must be what all the hype is about. Finally reality dawns.*(Note to self- cow number 3 still not in calf and looking a bit thin. Must need worming)*