It is a widely known and accepted fact that the purpose of creep feeding is to economically put additional weight on the calves before weaning. Supplementing calves with creep feed is important to their growth, as it provides a source of energy that most calves won’t get while transitioning from nursing to grazing forages.
Although creep feeding may prove beneficial in adding value to your calf crop, there are still several things to consider when deciding on a creep feeding program. Some of these considerations include:
- Cost of the creep feed. Does the added calf value outweigh the additional feed cost? Currently, 500-pound calves have a present market value around $150/cwt ($750 total value). If calves gain an additional 50 pounds while on creep, a $750 feeder calf is now a $825 calf. If it takes 6 pounds of creep to produce a pound of gain, it would take 300 pounds of creep per calf to add 50# of weaning weight. For example, let’s say creep feed costs $300 per ton ($0.15). Therefore, the cost of feed to put on the 50 pounds is $45. In turn, the return of creep feeding is $30 ($75 added calf value – $45 cost of creep = $30). Keep in mind that these numbers don’t include labor or equipment, and numbers may vary by region. <p/>
- Difference in price due to increased weight of the calves. Keeping in mind the above point, sometimes fleshy calves are discounted at market or bring less per pound. <p/>
- Efficiency of nutrient utilization of creep. Typically, producers value creep by price. The lower priced feeds typically contain the cheapest feeds that are lowest in energy. Even if adequate energy is available in a creep, it might not all be thoroughly utilized. Regardless of creep quality, it is important to always include a product like Amaferm® in the creep feed. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply within for maximum performance. Amaferm is research-proven to increase intake, digestibility and absorption of nutrients, increasing not only the nutritional value of the creep feed, but helping make the pasture nutrients more digestible as well. Research has proven that calves receiving Amaferm will gain about one-quarter pound more per day, and at current market price that is a return of about 38 cents per day on a 4-cent investment for the Amaferm. <p/>
- Pasture conditions. In the case of poor pasture conditions, creep is an extremely effective tool in decreasing some of the grazing pressure and the needs of the cows since the calves will get more nutrients from the creep. 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.
- 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.
If you would like assistance in developing a creep or discussing whether or not creep feeding is the most viable option for your operation, BioZyme’s nutrition team would be glad to formulate custom rations to fit individual scenarios and available feedstuffs. Producers should contact their BioZyme Area Sales Manager for more information about these custom rations.