CC Calves at Creep Feeder

The question of whether to implement creep-feeding into a beef operation is a common one for producers looking to improve their bottom-line. While there are costs associated with this practice, it may be a worthwhile investment for those looking to increase calf weaning weights and improve overall calf health.

1.) Boost Weaning Weight:

To increase weaning weight in calves, managers should focus on improving rumen development, providing adequate nutrition, and supporting digestive health. One way to accelerate rumen development is by introducing creep feed, which provides additional nutrients and stimulates the production of volatile fatty acids, such as butyrate and propionate, that aid in rumen development. This helps improve rumen efficiency and increase weight gain in calves.

Managers should also pay attention to the milking ability of cows, as inadequate or poor-quality forage can decrease milk production and result in insufficient nutrition for calves. In such cases, creep feeding can be particularly useful in providing additional nutrients to support calf growth.

In addition, including a postbiotic feed additive in the creep feed can help support digestive health by balancing rumen microbiota and aiding in rumen development. A study conducted at Iowa State University showed that calves supplemented with a postbiotic had improved rumen development, leading to longer, more developed rumen papillae compared to calves not supplemented with a postbiotic.

2.) Decrease Weaning Stress:

Introducing creep feed to calves prior to weaning can help reduce the stress and anxiety often associated with the weaning process. Calves that are already accustomed to eating feed from a bunk are better equipped to handle the weaning transition, as they have already received essential nutrients that support their immune system and overall health. In addition to creep feed, incorporating a postbiotic feed additive can further support the immune system and improve the calf's response to antibiotics if needed. By reducing weaning stress, calves are less likely to become ill and more likely to thrive.

To further support robust digestive health and aid in rumen development, a postbiotic feed additive can be included in the creep feed. This can also help improve immune strength, reducing the likelihood of sickness and improving response to antibiotic treatment.

Overall, the decision to implement creep-feeding should be weighed against its costs and benefits for each individual operation. However, it's clear that there are potential advantages to this practice, including increased weaning weight and improved calf health and performance.