To creep, or not to creep? That is the million dollar question for many producers. When determining whether or not to creep feed, a producer must assess financial variables with production goals to determine what creep protocol (if any) is the best fit for their production scenario.
Prior to weaning, a calf’s diet consists of milk that is energy rich and packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals. However, the milk from a lactating beef cow only furnishes about 50 percent of the nutrients that a 3-4 month-old calf needs to realize its genetic potential for growth. There is no doubt that creep feeding is extremely beneficial when high-quality pasture is inadequate or unavailable, but several research studies show that supplemental creep, regardless of pasture quality, pay dividends come weaning time.
Many cattle nutrition specialists recommend supplementing creep feed as a way to meet the energy and protein requirements of growing beef calves. According to a report on Creep Feeding Beef Calves by Dan E. Eversole, Extension Animal Scientist at Virginia Tech, “The energy and protein requirements of a growing calf increase well beyond the milking potential of most beef cows to meet the nutritional requirements of calves from birth to weaning. For example, 10 lbs. of milk are required by a 100 lb. calf to meet its daily energy and protein requirements for growth, whereas a 500 lb. calf needs 50 lbs. of milk. Since the average beef cow produces approximately 13 lbs. of milk daily throughout a 205-day suckling period, a 500 lb. calf is short-changed by 40 lbs. from getting enough milk from its dam at this lactational stage to meet its nutritional needs. The best way to fulfill the ‘hungry calf gap’ is to creep feed or creep graze.”
“The most important considerations in calf nutrition should be to keep calves healthy, on feed and gaining weight. Our wide variety of proven products help achieve these goals efficiently,” said BioZyme® Area Sales Manager, Lindsey Grimes. “All VitaFerm products contain our proprietary Amaferm advantage, a natural feed additive that acts as a prebiotic to increase digestibility and maximize the energy value of feed for easy transition and efficient gain.”
BioZyme offers three products that can be incorporated with feedstuffs found at the local mill to create a complete ration, and an additional product that can be incorporated into any pre-formulated/bagged creep feed.
Recommended BioZyme Products for Creep Feed:
Sure Champ® Ration Builder –A 32% protein pelleted base mix, fully fortified with vitamins and minerals and the Amaferm® advantage. Intended to use to build complete feeds for creep, growing and finishing rations by adjusting inclusion rates.
Sure Champ® – Proven in the show ring, Sure Champ works equally as well in creep feed to help maintain the strong appetite and healthy digestive system needed to unlock the genetic potential of calves. Sure Champ contains high levels of essential micronutrients for that extra bloom that show and sale cattle require.
VitaFerm® Sure Start® Pellet – The ideal supplement for stressed calves during weaning. This pellet also works extremely well as a creep balancer, bringing high levels of vitamins and minerals when additional protein is not needed. The Sure Start pellet works well in distillers and corn gluten-based creep feeds.
Amaferm® Digest More® – A low inclusion way to supplement Amaferm in any diet. At the feeding rate of 0.5 ounces, Digest More provides 2 grams of Amaferm. Digest More is best suited when additional protein, vitamins and minerals are not required.
Producers can view creep feed rations using these products developed by BioZyme’s nutritionist team by clicking here.
BioZyme customer Kevin Eathington of Eathington Angus in Illinois has witnessed positive gains in his calves by supplementing his creep feed with Amaferm Digest More.
“Not only did we see a 50-75 lb. improvement in gains on our calves by adding Digest More to our creep feed, but the overall health of our calves was much better compared to previous years,” said Eathington. “At weaning we continued to use the new creep feed formula. The noticeable difference in gain continued and we didn’t have any sick calves. We would definitely recommend any product containing Amaferm to other cattlemen.”
As a free service to beef producers, BioZyme’s nutritionists will also formulate custom creep feed recipes based on a producer’s available ingredients and specific production phase requirements. To access this free service, producers are encouraged to contact their BioZyme Area Sales Manager or call 800-821-3070 to begin the process.