What to know about creep feed
What is creep feed?
Creep feeding is a way to supplement the diet of young livestock, like calves and lambs, by offering feed even though they are still suckling.
Why creep feed?
The main reason for creep feeding is to ensure growth even when milk production of the mother is decreased, but there are other benefits as well:
- Supplying creep feed decreases the stress of the weaning process, as the animals are already used to eating solid feed and helps with early weaning of the young.
- Creep feeding is particularly helpful when it comes to mothers nursing two or more young, as the competition between siblings is alleviated. Multiple lambs should receive extra nutrition on the side, so that they do not lose body condition.
- Creep fed lambs have a greater daily gain in weight as the supplementation is of high nutritional quality and is well utilised by growing animals.
- The young will reach a target market weight at an earlier age, due to an increase in the Feed Conversion Ratio
- Conception rate of the mother is improved if her young is weaned early as she is able to better absorb and utilise nutrients and will have a higher body condition. A better body condition leads to increased reproductive functions.
When should creep feed be fed?
With calves creep feed can be introduced as early as three days after birth, and with lambs it can be introduced 14 days after birth. The reason for introducing creep feed at such an early age is to stimulate rumen development which leads to faster growth at a younger age.
Creep feed characteristics:
Creep feed should have specific characteristics which can also be found in Molatek’s sheep fattening concentrate/calf concentrate. Characteristics include:
- Being highly palatable to stimulate feeding, this can be accomplished by adding molasses to the feed.
- Having a good feed texture
- Having a high nutritional quality
- Having a high protein quality
- Having a high energy content
- Containing lucerne hay or a good quality grain