How much feed is required to grow a farmed fish - Feed Conversion Ratio?

The amount of feed an animal requires to gain a kilogram of body weight is referred to as a feed conversion ratio (FCR). The lower the FCR the more efficient an animal is in retaining the protein and energy from the feed and converting it into food for humans (i.e. meat and fillets).

FCR of fish can be improved in a variety of ways;

  • Optimising the feed formulation
  • Increasing amount of energy in the feed that can be digested
  • Improvements in feed management - how farmers feed their animals
  • Improvements in feed delivery systems – technology and equipment used by farmers to feed their animals

Ultimately, it is the combination of all these factors that will substantially improve the use of feed resources and produce more food for humans.

Based on current best practice it takes 1.35kg of feed to produce 1kg of farmed Tasmanian Atlantic salmon, while for a marine species such as a barramundi, it takes about 1.5kg of feed to produce 1kg of farmed Australian barramundi.

FCR can vary widely depending on the type of animal and the production practices used, but in comparison to livestock, fish are more efficient at converting feed into food for humans (i.e. meat and fillets).

Comparision of feed conversion ratio for different animals 
  FCR
Norwegian Atlantic salmon 1.15
Tasmanian Atlantic salmon 1.35
Australian Barramundi 1.50
Chicken 1.79
Pig 2.63
Lamb 6.30

FCR = (kg feed fed) / (kg body weight gain)

Data from: Bjorkli, J. Protein and energy account in salmon, chicken pig and lamb. M.Sc. Thesis, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Norway (2002).

Tasmanian Atlantic salmon data sourced directly from Tasmanian salmon industry.

Australian Barramundi data sourced directly from Australian Barramundi industry.