Decoding Cattle Feed Efficiency By Kip Karges, PhD, Ruminant Products Manager, Lallemand Animal Nutrition


Feed is one of the most costly inputs in a feeding operation, which has made improving feed efficiency a longstanding goal for producers.

Considering that feed costs are between 55 and 75 percent of the total cost in cattle production, even a small increase in feed efficiency can have a big effect. For example, a five percent decrease in feed efficiency could have an economic impact four times greater than a five percent improvement in average daily gain (ADG).1

It is well-documented that genetics, health status and ration formulation can play a major role in the feed efficiency of cattle. More recently, researchers are finding that the microbial balance of an animal’s gut plays a major role in how efficiently the ration is processed in the gut.

Unlike many other factors, microbes in the gut can be influenced for a relatively low cost per head. For example, studies have shown the inclusion of viable gut modifier products like Lactobacillus acidophilus BT-1386 can be utilized to improve feed efficiency in finishing feedlot cattle while substantially enhancing the rate of gain.2

In one study of 540 beef steers, cattle supplemented with the probiotic L. acidophilus BT-1386 had a 4.2% improvement in feed conversion and a 3.06% improvement ADG over control cattle. In addition, L. acidophilus BT-1386-supplemented cattle had a net weight gain advantage of 13 lb (5.9 kg) per head during the 118-day finishing period.2

L. acidophilus BT-1386, which is commercially available in BIOPOWER® LA to Canadian cattle producers, can work in the gut to promote and maintain a normal intestinal environment which contributes to performance and feed efficiency. BIOPOWER LA has been reviewed and approved by Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and when fed as directed allowed a beef cattle performance claim of improved feed efficiency.3

For more information, contact:

Erin Carter

Lallemand Animal Nutrition

(414) 393-4030

1 Lamb GC and Maddock T. Feed efficiency in cows.  2009 Florida Beef Cattle Short Course. Accessed July 8, 2020. Available at:

2 Lallemand Animal Nutrition. MCUSE012. Unpublished. United States. 1996.

3 BioPower LA is registered with CFIA under number 680169 and has an approved animal performance claim when fed as directed to improve feed efficiency in beef cattle.

©2020. Not all products are available in all markets nor associated claims allowed in all regions.


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