Creep Feed Season is Here!

Stacy Hoffman, Livestock Production Specialist, Purina Animal Nutrition (507) 676-6401

Spring finally arrived!! Everyone is aware that some decisions are easier than others. The decision to creep feed or not to creep feed is not an easy one for some producers. Like most other aspects of the beef business it’s a complex decision and one that has to be analyzed year after year. This management decision has lots of variables and responses that are not always predictable.

Creep feeding is a simple way to supplement grass and milk of unweaned calves. Creep feeding is usually done in free choice feeders and traditionally feeds are offered in a 14% protein pellet. These feeds are traditionally offer a moderate to high energy concentrate feed. Fulfilling the energy and protein requirements over and above that provided by the average milk production (13 lbs.) of a beef cow would require the daily consumption of 50 lbs. of average quality pasture grass by the nursing calf. Unfortunately, the rumen of a 500 lb. calf cannot accommodate that much roughage.

Calculations should be made by each producer with figures from their specific operation and include the approximate cost of added weight gain from creep feeding, added labor requirements, forage conditions and a current market analysis. The chart you see here is a basic worksheet that can be used in the decision making process. (Please note that the Cost of Feed per Ton and Calf Sale Price shown were the current market prices at the time of printing of the article)

Advantages of Creep Feeding Rangeland Creep Pasture Gest could include:

  1. Improves weaning weight and rate of gain.
  2. Provides a way to fill the “hungry calf gap.”
  3. Compensates for low milk production.
  4. Facilitates fall calving.
  5. Improves calf uniformity.
  6. Enhances merchandising by adding bloom and weight to calves.
  7. Provides calves that are bunk broke.
  8. Provides market flexibility.
  9. Simplifies weaning.

Producers can expect to feed 3-6 lbs. of feed per day per calf and we have seen that figure go to as much as 8 lbs. They need to factor in 9-10 lbs. of feed per pound of gain. Feed conversion is probably the biggest disadvantage in the formula and again these numbers can vary. Producers need to decide the number of days they are going to feed, and most look at 75 90 days as a good estimate.

The main disadvantage to creep feeding might be pasture/feeder location or the expense of owning the equipment. All American Co-op does offer a Creep Feeder Rental Program that is a first come first serve option. We can also make arrangements for fence line deliveries. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call! The Feed Team at All American Co-op is here to work with you, your success is important to us.

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