Looking Ahead in 2021: Creep feeding

Apr 01, 2021

By Justin R. Crocheck, Senior Cattle Consultant, Justin.Crocheck@keycoop.com

As calving season 2021 is underway and the grass is turning to green, we will soon start thinking about how we get the most out of our pastures and our cows. As we know well from the summer of 2020, the feed supply that we expect to get isn’t always what we get. Some producers had to early wean calves due to poor grass conditions and others couldn’t keep calves in pastures with storm-damaged fences. One tool that prepared their calves for these situations was creep feeding.

There are several advantages to creep feeding. The first is that creep feeding allows us to wean calves early, if weather or cow conditions push us to change our weaning plans, because the calves have learned how to eat from a creep feeder. The second is increasing weaning weights, while reducing the nutrient demand on the cow. Forage availability for the cow also increases by 10–15 percent when calves are early weaned, while reducing cow nutrient requirements by 30–50 percent and increasing body condition scores of the cow herd. Third, the health of the calves is improved because of enhanced levels of vitamins and trace minerals that boost the immune system. Finally, the calves have the ability to express their genetic differences when creep fed. These early weaned calves tend to have higher-quality grades if continued on high-energy rations.

The reason I’m discussing the advantages of creep in April is because it’s creep booking time again. The time of the year when we book what we think the calves will need for this creep feeding season. We will have a creep booking price with deliveries starting on April 1, 2021, and ending October 31, 2021. Booking prices will be available at our Key Cooperative locations that handle feed, along with our beef feed sales staff. If you have any questions concerning this article, feel free to contact me at 515-291-0763.
*Key Cooperative reserves the right to pull the offer to book creep at any time due to changes in availability of ingredients and subsequent pricing changes from suppliers that come with unknowns in weather and other factors beyond our control.

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