6 Tips for Successful Creep Feeding

Jul 27, 2020

Tara Jo Bina
Countryside Feed Livestock Production Specialist
Creep Feeding can be a great tool to have in your cow calf management tool box. Utilizing self-feeders can be very convenient, but they do require management to be successful. Here are a few tips to remember this creep feeding season:
  1. Limit Intake to 1 – 1.5% of body weight
In most cases, a major goal of creep feed is to supplement not replace nutrition from nursing and grazing. In order to maximize efficiency of all sources of nutrition a good rule of thumb is a targeted daily intake of 1 – 1.5% of body weight.
  1. Do not let creep feeders run empty       
Filling a creep feeder after it has been empty for several days can lead to calves over consuming feed, putting them at higher risk for metabolic conditions such as acidosis and bloat among others. Feed bridging up in the feeders can also cause the same effect. Check feeders regularly to ensure feed is consistently available to calves.
  1. Clean troughs regularly to avoid spoiled feed
Checking creep feeders regularly is also a great way to make sure the feed offered to calves is fresh. Allowing the accumulation of spoiled feed is a great way to get calves to go off feed. Cleaning troughs is especially important after a rain, as hot, wet feed makes an ideal growth environment for yeasts and molds.
  1. Maintain a “two-finger” gate opening
A rule of thumb for gate opening width is the “two-finger” rule. Wider openings allow too much feed into the trough and results in wasted feed. Narrower openings tend to restrict the flow of feed too much.
  1. Provide 1 creep feeder for every 50 head of calves
In large pastures, provide enough bunk space as they continue to grow. Usually an 8-foot creep feeder will support 50 head of calves.
  1. Place feeders in easy to access, frequently congregated areas
When starting calves on creep feed, place feeders in areas that are frequently congregated. As calves eat more feed, feeders can be moved to other areas to encourage grazing and exercise.
No matter where creep feeders are moved, they should be located in areas that are easy to check, service, and fill.
Contact your Countryside Feed representative to discuss best management practices for creep feeding this summer.

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