Beef Cattle Creep Feeding
Nursing calves are provided additional feed by beef cattle creep feeding
programs. This supplemental feed is usually different from that served to mature cows. It is either grain-based
feed or protein based feed. Calves are fed whole or coarsely rolled or ground grain, peas, lentils and high quality
whole oats, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Calves are allowed grazing on special pastures grown
exclusively for them. The motive behind creep feeding is the added weaning weight gain of the calves. Creep feeding
also takes off some pressure of milk feeding newly born calf from the cow, which has just gone through calving. It
can help her regain her body weight and strength much faster.
Beef cattle creep feeding is usually started on
50 days old calves till they are 150 days old. In terms of weight the target is 400 lbs. It also makes weaning
easier as calves are not new to feeds other than milk. There is not much need of creep feeding when calves are
already putting on enough weight feeding on milk and forage. Supplemental feed and the added expense of the same is
only worth it when rate of growth of calves feeding on milk and forage alone is not sufficient. Creep feeding
becomes necessary when the quality and quantity of dam’s milk is not good, forage for the calves is too mature for
their digestion or it is not enough left for the calves.
Another important equation to be considered is that the expense of creep feed must be
less than the value of the calf, where added weaning weight adds to the profit of the owner. Fat and fleshy calves
may not have good value in the market. So there is no point in spending money on supplemental feed.
Growing your own high quality pastures can be a convenient and less expensive option
for beef cattle creep feeding. Farm owners can grow high quality pastures on a small area especially for calves.
Creep gates are used to allow only calves to these pastures and restricting mature cattle herd from grazing there.
Fat female calves due to creep feeding can have reduced milk production and low productivity. So there must be a
limit on the beef cattle creep feeding. High-protein creep feed are usually a better choice over high grain creep
feed. Exact requirements depend strictly on the needs of individual calves.