5 Benefits of Creep Feeding Fall Calving Herds
Dec 07, 2020
Tara Jo Bina
Countryside Feed Livestock Production Specialist
Fall calving cows face different challenges than their spring calving contemporaries. Fall calving herds often require extra supplementation because forages typically lack protein and energy to support cows when their requirements are at their highest. Another management consideration for fall calving herds should be creep feeding. Here are a 5 benefits of feeding calves through the winter:
1. Supplement Nursing Cows are able to provide most of the nutrition calves need through nursing. Creep feed is designed to supplement nutrients provided by the cow, not to replace them. Filling in the nutrient gaps allows calves to reach their growth potential. Supplementing calves can also relieve some of the pressure on cows to maintain adequate milk production. This is especially beneficial for cows with extra stress, such as first calf heifers and aged cows.
2. Increase Efficiency Winter forages typically consist of cover crops, dry grasses, and dry hays. None of these forms of roughage will provide the protein and energy required by cows to maintain adequate lactation or support a rapidly growing calf. Supplementing cows, calves, or both, not only fills the protein and energy gaps, it also increases the digestibility of the low-quality forage by giving the rumen the tools it needs to break down the fiber!
3. Increase Weaning Weights Calves supplemented properly with creep feed can be very efficient in converting feed to added gains. With a 3-to-6-pound average intake of creep feed producers can expect to see about ½ to 1 pound of additional average daily gain. When implementing a creep feeding program for 30 – 90 days, those gains add up to between 15 – 90 more pounds per calf at weaning!
4. Easier Weaning Transition Another great benefit to creep feeding is getting calves used to coming to feed. Offering the best quality nutrition available won’t do a thing if the cattle don’t eat. Calves that have been on a creep feeder understand what feed is and generally transition over to a feed bunk very well. This makes starting calves after weaning a much smoother process.
5. Reduce Grazing Pressure A cow is required to consume extra protein and energy to maintain adequate milk production to support her rapidly growing calf. When calves are able to run to creep feed, some of this demand on the cow is relieved, allowing her to maintain better body condition while eating less forage. This is important to keep in mind in the fall and winter when forages lack protein and energy to support peak lactation.
Contact your Countryside Feed representative to add this great tool to your fall cow calf management tool box!