Creep Feeding Beef Calves

Creep feeding is the term used when we choose to feed animal offspring (calves) supplemental feed without allowing the animal adults (cows) access to the supplemental feed. Creep feeding can be a valuable tool to increase the net returns to your cow/calf enterprise, you may have some concerns about creep feeding, and we will address those here. 

The most common concerns about creep feeding calves that we hear from producers include; 1. Increased costs, 2. High levels of creep consumption, 3. Fleshy calves, 4. Disguising the milking ability of the cow herd, 5. Losing money due to a price slide on heavier calves. All of these concerns are easily dealt with when using an intake controlled creep feeding program.

Ingram Feed & Seed utilizes a high quality pelleted creep feed to get calves started on feed and then we switch them to an Intake Modification Technology product mixed with corn to continue to grow the calves. In 2015 we will start calves on Rangeland Calf Creep 14N with 140 grams/Ton Aureomycin and 91 Grams/ Ton of Bovatec as an ionophore. This is a high quality creep feed that will provide better conversions than many cheaper products. Remember, we only use this feed at the beginning of the program, using a $50 cheaper product with a poorer conversion will cost you dollars, not save them! Once calves have consumed between 50 – 100 # per head of RL calf creep we will transition the calves to an Accu-Ration product mixed with corn. Why? The Accu-Ration family of products gives us controlled intakes of a high energy ration and THIS is the key to making a creep feeding program work efficiently! We are trying to supplement, not replace, forage intake to meet the needs of the calf. Feeding a higher energy ration in limited amounts keeps the feed conversion very efficient because this limited amount of feed goes only to fill the “hungry calf gap” that exists between the amount of nutrients that a calf can get from milk and grass and what they need for optimal gains. At Ingram Feed & Seed we have been using a pelleted Accu-Ration Beef Grower product mixed with 80% corn for our controlled intake creep feed. We coarse roll the corn in this mix which seems to make setting creep feeders easier. This product has Rumensin as an ionophore to help your calves convert feed to gain more efficiently and help combat coccidiosis. We have been able to feed this product at an 80:20 mix ratio all the way to weaning.  We can also use it on up to 800-900# Lbs calf weight if desired, all from a self-feeder. 

This program controls several of the concerns listed above; 1. We control costs with controlled intake PLUS we can further control out of pocket costs by using your own grain in the Accu-Ration mix. 2. You will not see high levels of creep consumption due to Intake Modifiers in Accu-Creep mixes. 3. Calves on Accu-Creep programs do not flesh much because of the way the feed is delivered, slowly and consistently to the rumen of the calf. 4. We really do not confuse the issue of a cow’s milking ability by feeding a limited intake creep feed because all calves have more growing ability than what they achieve from just momma’s milk and grass. When we are feeding a limited intake creep the dame is still going to produce the same amount of milk as when there is not creep feed present, however the calf will gain more weight. Most of our calves today have so much more gain potential on milk and grass that it is virtually impossible to measure milking ability via calf performance anyway. And finally 5. The dreaded slide in price per cwt as calf weight climbs. Can you still make a profit creep feeding? If we use current pricing and expected extra gains from creep feeding we will still come up with more profit by adding weight to the calves. We will be adding weight at a cost of around 60 cents per pound this year and would expect to add about 90 extra pounds per calf. So even without figuring any value for faster starts and better health at weaning we can conquer a $50/cwt slide is most cases.