What are the benefits to the cow & calf?
After an extremely challenging year for Suckled calf producers, where many cows calved down in poorer body condition score (BCS) than normal, and calf numbers weaned are potentially lower than normal, it will be extremely important to maximise calf growth rate and volume of saleable beef produced this summer.
If you sell calves as stores after weaning in October, or if housing over Winter, it is important to maximise kilos of beef produced over the summer months at grass. Early creep feeding can help improve this, but possibly more importantly, creep feeding can be used as a management tool to help lessen the burden on already thin cows.
Already we are seeing farmers introduce creep feeders, up to 2 months earlier than normal, so what impact will this have?
If Cows are in poor BCS post calving, and in danger of losing more weight – where grass volume and or quality is limited – then early creep feeding could help the Cow to gain BCS prior to the bulling period.
“Creep feed does not reduce milk intake as milk bypasses the rumen and its digestion begins in the abomasum. However, with higher creep feed intakes, less grass is consumed. This leaves more grass available to the cows to help them regain condition.” (Rhidian Jones for SAC, AHDB)
A mature 650Kg Cow will require around 120 – 130MJ/day for maintenance in early lactation which will equate to 65 – 75Kg of fresh weight grass/day.
A 4 month old Calf may eat 15 to 20Kg of grass fresh weight/day, so it is easy to see where volume of grass could be substituted for creep feed easing the burden on the cow, while also efficiently providing energy and growth to the calf.
Liveweight gain will be the most efficient early in the calf’s life, and therefore this is the most cost-effective time to feed. As such, creep feeding from 3 to 4 months of age, can yield the following benefits;
• Weaning weights increased by 25 – 30Kg/head
• Efficient feed conversion ration – 4Kg creep will provide 1Kg of gain
• Reduced stress and checks at weaning
Check out our creep feed, Omega Sprint: