How To Compare Feed Labels

Recently, I received the following question from a reader …

You refer to labels often when evaluating a feed or mineral product. I am trying to learn to read labels also….  For example, while I know the letters “ppm” stands for “parts per million,” I don’t really know how much that equates to on a feed label! Some labels will indicate “Zinc, Min. 1.20%” and another label will say “Zinc, Min. 7500 PPM.  How do I compare those two amounts????

This is such a great question! It does seem impossible to compare these two labels because they are presented differently. However, a percentage is simply parts per hundred. On one label they are telling you that 1.2 pieces of a 100 piece-pie is zinc. On the other label, they are telling you that 7500 pieces of a million-piece pie is zinc. A piece of pie cut into a million pieces is 10,000 times more pieces than a pie that has been cut into 100 pieces. Without even doing the math, in this case, you might guesstimate that 1.2% is more than 7500 ppm, and you would be correct. Typically, if something is presented as ppm, it is a very tiny amount.

Let’s do the math though and see how these two compare when we put them in the same terms. To convert from ppm to percent, divide the ppm by 10,000.

7500 ÷ 10,000 = 0.75%, compared to the product with 1.2% zinc.

If you prefer to multiply rather than divide, you can convert percent to ppm by multiplying the percentage by 10,000 because 1% = 10,000 ppm.

1.2% X 10,000 = 12,000 ppm compared to the product with 7500 ppm

Contrary to what your math teacher told you when you were in school, we do all have a calculator available to us at all times now, and with Siri, I don’t even have to type in anything, which makes this really easy.

However, if you don’t necessarily care about a  head-to-head comparison, and you just want to know which one has more, you can easily eyeball it. Since 1% is 10,000 ppm, if one product has less than 10,000 ppm, and the other product has more than 1%, then the one that is presented as a percentage has more of the mineral.

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6 thoughts on “How To Compare Feed Labels”

  1. I have a question. I have been dealing with Cooper deficiencies in My Pygmy goats! I did the Cooper pills was better however could see it coming back after 4 months. My vet has gave me a goat mineral that is 3100ppm! Almost triple the other I was giving! My concern is toxicity! I know they say free choice but can they eat to much! They are eating it like crazy! We live East Tennessee!
    Jennifer

    Reply
    • That is a lot of copper, especially because it’s probably copper sulfate, which is very well absorbed and is more likely to cause toxicity than copper oxide wire particles. Here is more info about copper toxicity:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/avoiding-copper-toxicity-goats/
      and about copper deficiency:
      https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-and-copper-deficiency/
      It’s not unusual for goats to need copper oxide wire particles every four months, if you have a lot of copper antagonists in the environment, such as sulfur or iron in the well water.

      Reply
        • It takes time for copper to build up in the liver when given orally. You can quickly kill a goat with an injection of copper, but it takes time for oral copper to build up in the liver, so it’s not a problem, especially if they’re actually deficient right now. Be sure to read the links I posted so that you can figure what you need to do for your herd. It varies from farm to farm.

          Reply
          • I did your course which was very helpful! That’s why I did the capsule! But my vet mentioned this mineral and I thought that would help keep them more stable. We are on well water and my iron content is very high! I have 3 filters to try to keep water regulated!
            Thank you for all your help!
            Jennifer

        • A mineral with such a high copper content might be okay AFTER you have an established chronic copper deficiency problem. That means knowing that you need to supplement with the COWP every 3-4 months for at least a year. You need to go through kidding, lactation, breeding, growing kids, etc, and see that they really do have a chronic problem before you make a big change in their free-choice mineral.

          Reply

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