Ryan Healy – Beef Nutrition Specialist
As we move into late spring, cattle producers need to start thinking about whether or not creep feeding is a profitable practice for their operation, and if so, choosing the correct feed that not only brings value to the animal, but the producer as well. Today, we are working with greater technology, genetics and knowledge that allows us to make more informed decisions when it comes to adding value to your operation.
Creep feed has a multitude of advantages, and shouldn’t be quickly taken off the table.
To start, adding a feeder into your herd takes stress off of the cows, allowing them to stay in better body condition and in turn, creates higher marbling. Typically, adding creep feed into the ration also ensures heavier calves at weaning, and we know heavier weaned calves’ transition better to feed. All of these factors can make a big difference on your bottom line.
So how do we determine if it is profitable to include a creep feeder? With a conventional creep made of corn, oats, soy hulls, DDGs, and mineral premix, you can be profitable, but you will see this come with a higher conversion rate of 10 pounds consumption to 1 pound gain. Rangeland calf creep is a forage based, middle-of-the-road creep. The conversion rate is better than that of conventional creep, coming in at 6 pounds consumption to 1 pound gain. It is also more efficient than conventional, because it is feeding the same microbes that also digest grass.
I would say the best option for producers is the Accuration creep feed by Purina. It was developed using intake modifying technology at Purina’s research farm. With the feed, calves will eat more meals in smaller quantities. This gives the microbes a more consistent source of food, ensuring a better conversion rate. Producers have seen as good as a 4:1 ratio when using Accuration, allowing calves to gain more weight on less feed.
If you have any questions on these options, I would be happy to come out to your farm. I have a creep feed projection tool to help you decide what the best option is. Remember, it is more important to figure out cost of gain versus cost per ton.