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1. no creep (Control)

2. 2 lbs/day of corn or soybean hulls limit-fed with 11% salt

3. free-choice creep made from corn or soybean hulls.

During the nursing phase, calves fed 2 lbs/day of limited creep gained 39% faster than controls. Free-choice creeped calves ate about 5 lbs/day but gained only 13% more than limit-creeped calves. Forage intake decreased as the level of creep feed increased. Performance was equal for corn and soyhulls. During a 77-day growing period following weaning, calves that had been creeped ate more feed and gained faster than controls. It appeared that calves creep-fed with corn adapted more quickly to the corn and corn silage growing ration than calves creep-fed with soyhulls.

During the 167-day finishing period, calves that had been creep-fed tended to gain slower, eat more feed and have slightly poorer feed conversions than control calves. When the 77-day growing and 167-day finishing period were combined, there were no differences in gain or efficiency as a result of level or type of creep feed. However, creep-fed calves were fatter and had higher quality grades than control calves. Calves creep fed with corn had higher quality grades than calves creeped with soyhulls. It was concluded that creep feeding can enable more steers to achieve choice grade at a young (14 months) age and that a digestible fiber source can replace corn as an ingredient in creep feeds.

Creep feeding replacement heifers It is well established that heifers that are fat at weaning age may deposit fat in their udders and have reduced milk production potential. The overfeeding can occur from creep feed, heavy milk production of the dam or both. The proper use of creep feeding with heifer calves that will be retained as breeding replacements should be to ensure that the heifers reach weaning age at the ideal body condition and weight. Creep feed in itself will not be harmful, and in fact can be beneficial if the practice helps maintain a good growth rate up to weaning age. Only overfeeding of creep feeds resulting in obese females is harmful.

Summary Advantages of Limited creep feeding can include

1. Conversions of creep to added gain are improved over what is expected from ad libitum creep feeding.

2. Labor and the amount of feed handled are greatly reduced.

3. Calves are not fattened sufficiently to have any great impact on sale price/ lb.

4. The increased weaning weight from limited creep feeding is usually no more than 30 lbs, not enough to have much negative impact on subsequent feeding performance.

5. Because of efficient conversions of creep to added gain, the practice of limited creep feeding is frequently profitable by itself.

6. Calves learn to eat mixed feed, and research suggests that performance during the early stages of postweaning feeding can be improved.

There are, however, problems with management of limited creep feeding


1. Calves must eat the creep feed. Both Kansas and Oklahoma researchers have encountered problems in getting calves to eat the creep feed. Some producer education is required to ensure proper placement of creep feeding stations and proper formulation of feeds. Calves are very sensitive to the taste of salt and much less is required to limit intake than is needed with cows. Salt levels of 5 to 10% are maximums in most cases. Calves should be started on creep without salt and the salt level adjusted as needed to hold intake within desired ranges - usually 1.0 lb/head/day for high protein creeps, and 1.5-3.0 lbs/head/day for medium to low protein formulations.

2. For significant added weaning weight (20 lbs or more), the creep needs to be fed for a period of over 60 days. Benefits from feeding only two or three weeks preweaning must come from improved postweaning performance.

3. Although more research is needed on carryover effects of limited creep feeding on postweaning performance, available research suggests that limited creep feeding can accomplish much of what full creep feeding could have done in training calves to eat. For full advantage, ionophores or coccidiostats may need to be included in the creep feeds, especially just prior to the stress of weaning.

Research has generally shown that advantages from preconditioning are from less sickness and greater gains during the early phase following weaning.

Further, a full preconditioning program can require substantial purchases of feed. If calves make good gains during preconditioning, subsequent gains during the following grazing and finishing period may be reduced. Limited creep feeding may obtain many of the benefits of feeding during preconditioning while greatly reducing the amount and cost of feeding involved. The rancher must, however, be in a situation that permits management of a creep feeding program.

Literature Cited Brazle, F.B., et al., Kan. St. Univ. Rep. of Prog. 514:99.

Crosthwait, G.L., et al., 1978. Ok. State Univ. MP-103.

D.B. Faulkner, et al., 1994. J. Anim. Sci. 72:470.

Kuhl, G.L., et al., J. Anim Sci. Suppl. 1. 65:446 (abstr).

Kuhl, G.L. (1984), Kan. St. Univ. from Ritchie, Feedstuffs, Dec. 12, 1987.

Lusby, K.S. 1986. Ok. State Univ. MP-118.

Pate, F.M., 1981. Proc. 1981 Beef Cattle Short Course. Univ. of Fla., Gainsville.

Wyatt, W.E., et al., 1986. Annual Res. Rep. Iberia Research Station. Jeanerette, La.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is implied.

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S.

Department of Agriculture, Charles B. Browning, Director of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma. This publication is printed and issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and has been prepared and distributed at a cost of $427.98 for 1,000 copies. #0133 0894 JDM Revised.

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