To Creep Feed Or Not To Creep Feed…

We’re into the cooler months here in the States. Calving season is starting up, which means producers are starting to think about winter feeding programs. Will you feed hay? Supplement corn? Provide protein tubs? What about the calves? Weaning season is just around the corner, which means creep feed is on the brain.

What is creep feeding?

Creep feed is a feed provided to calves prior to weaning to let calves become slowly accustomed to feed. These feeds are typically fed in self-feeders with gates small enough for the calves to fit through, but too small for cows to wiggle into.

Why creep feed?

Creep feeding calves encourages them to consume feed prior to weaning, which decreases stress during weaning, as the calves are already familiar with the new feed source. Additionally, starting calves on grain earlier in life increases both marbling and weaning weights. Vitamins and minerals can also be included in creep feeds to ensure adequate intake.

Nutritive composition

Creep feeds usually range between 13 to 15% protein and have moderate levels of energy. These levels of protein are required to aid in proper growth and development. Low starch energy sources are often used to provide energy while promoting healthy rumen development. Additionally, molasses is often used to decrease dust while providing a sweet smell and flavor, which enhances palatability.

Animal behavior and creep feed

When provided the chance, cattle are picky eaters. They will start with the most palatable option, starting with milk, then creep feed, then last to available forages. Adequate roughage intake is important in calf rumen development, so creep feeds will oftentimes have a fibrous roughage source included, such as cottonseed hulls in case calves fill up prior to consuming forages.

Weaning with AgriGro

NutriZyme® is an all-natural spray-on additive applied to feed to enhance some of the most important factors of creep feed. Some, but not all of these factors include…

  • Improved weaning weights
  • Increased appetite and intake
  • Enhanced disease resistance
  • Overall gut health. 

Get the most out of your feed with NutriZyme®.