Side by Side: Creep feeders

Agriculture.com Staff 03/14/2006 @ 11:10am

Creep feeding calves is not an easy call. If your cows and their babies are getting all the lush grass they want, it's difficult to make the case for creep feeding. But pastures are seldom perfect all year. If the pickings get a little slim in July and August, creep feeding makes more sense.

The potential return on creep feeding depends on the feed conversion rate, and the relationship between calf price and feed cost. Feed conversion varies depending on pasture conditions and feeding method. When pastures are good, it's not unusual for the conversion to be 12 to 16 pounds of creep feed per pound of calf gain. But when forage is limited, the conversion rate can be 6 to 8 pounds of feed per pound of gain. For planning purposes, figure your calves will fall in the middle, about 10 pounds of feed per pound of gain.

"As calves get heavier, there will likely be a price slide," explains Daryl Strohbehn, Extension beef specialist, Iowa Beef Center. "That last 50 pounds you put on the calf, normally, is not as valuable as the first 500 pounds. If you add 40 to 50 pounds with creep feeding, what you pay for feed and what you'll receive for the heavier calf may not always favor creep feeding."

Strohbehn suggests considering these factors before you begin a program.

Consistency. If the fill on the feeders isn't maintained regularly, calves may gorge themselves when feed appears. This can cause feed overload problems, acidosis, and death in some cases.

Waste. Be sure to adjust the feeder for the different types of feed that go through the machine. This will reduce the amount of feed wasted.

Availability. If forage is short, creep feeding may be a viable option.

Location. The feeder should be in a place frequented by the herd so that calves can easily find it and go to it. Ideally, it should be near a mineral feeder or water.

"Two nice improvements to feeders have been an increase in general size and the addition of wheels for easier mobility," says Strohbehn.

Creep feeding calves is not an easy call. If your cows and their babies are getting all the lush grass they want, it's difficult to make the case for creep feeding. But pastures are seldom perfect all year. If the pickings get a little slim in July and August, creep feeding makes more sense.

Untitled Document

Manufacturer

Specifications

Price

Apache
Model shown: 8', 70 bu.
Phone: 800/345-5073
www.agriculture.com/go/5884

Apache offers a variety of sizes and configurations. All feeders have a ground lid opener that raises the lid to an upright position. The lid works as a shield against the wind when filling the feeder. Lid can be lowered on top of fill auger to prevent rain from entering feeder.

CancelPost Comment
MORE FROM AGRICULTURE.COM STAFF more +

Farm and ranch risk management resources By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Government resources USDA Risk Management Agency Download free insurance program and…

Major types of crop insurance policies By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am Crop insurance for major field crops comes in two types: yield-based coverage that pays an…

Marketing 101 - Are options the right tool… By: 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am "If you are looking for a low risk way to protect yourself against prices moving either higher or…

MEDIA CENTERmore +
This container should display a .swf file. If not, you may need to upgrade your Flash player.
Holiday Profit Taking Pressures Markets