Creep Feeding At Its Core

Published on Fri, 05/27/2022 - 12:47pm

Creep Feeding At Its Core.

 By Maura Keller.

 Here’s one thing we know: The use of creep feed has proven to add more pounds per calf than non-creep feeding.

In fact, Chris Green, president and owner of Green’s Welding and Sales (GWS), which offers a 150-bushel portable creep feeder, has found that he can make more money per calf than the additional cost per pound of feed when using a creep feeder.

“In addition, creep feeding will take stress off of the mother cow so she can maintain condition and will more easily breed back. The calves that are fed will wean off better with stress as well,” Green says. “A producer always has to weigh the cost of the creep feeder and feed into the equation. A basic creep feeder with a reasonable cost will prove to make the producer more money by keeping prices down and weight gains up.”

Specifically, Green’s Welding and Sales (GWS), offers a 150-bushel portable creep feeder which boasts fold-up creep gates, 14-gauge steel construction, large rain guard, rust proof flat feed bottom, adjustable height limiter on creep gates, and hand holds for safety.

“Years ago, creep feeders were only stationary or on skids and made of wood. Usually, there were no creep gates on the feeders,” Green explains. “The creep feeder was in a lot and a gate that only calves could fit through would keep the cows out of the lot. Now creep feeders are portable with creep gates mounted right on the feeder.”

The team at Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment also understand the need for farmers to maximize their return on investment in both the animals they raise and the equipment they use. That’s why Tarter’s developed a calf creep feeders that hold from 650 pounds to 1,000 pounds of feed. Eliminating the ability of larger animals to access the calf-specific feed is also paramount, which is why Tarter’s developed a high-quality cage to limit feed access to only calves. Specifically, the cage is constructed from 1-3/8” square tubing with adjustable gate bar for growing calves and the feeder features a 1-3/8” square frame reinforced with 1-1/4” angle iron and a rounded 1/8” thick poly back and bottom trough for complete feeding.

For producers looking for portability in their calf creep feeders, the Tarter 165-bushel portable creep feeder can be moved between pastures, allowing accessing for young calves who need additional nutrients to increase their daily weight gain and reach their weaning weight.

 Behlen Country also manufactures calf creep feeders that offer the durability that many producers seek. Built with one-piece poly feed hoppers, these creep feeders also boast molded-in side deflectors to help protect the vital feed from rain. These hoppers are available in both 750-pound and 1200-pound capacity to meet the needs of all herd sizes.

Core Elements of Creep Feeders
The basic nature of creep feeders means that producers are provided an opportunity for easy operable equipment that meets the feeding needs of their calves. As such, it is important the products look for creep feeders that include ease of use, such as a ground opening lid, and easy feed flow adjustment.

“Rain and weather production for feed is also important,” Green says. “As with all products, quality and long lasting durability is important to consider as well.” Indeed, a creep feeder should be placed in an area that offers the proper amount of water and shade for the young calves.  

Obviously strategizing the proper size of a creep feeder is paramount. As Green explains, producers should make sure to have enough feed capacity for their number of head of calves so the feeder doesn’t need to be filled as often.

“Producers need to make sure to have enough spots for calves to eat,” Green says. “Of course, calves will take turns to a certain extent.”

Some additional questions producers need to ask themselves as it relates to choosing the best creep feeder for their operation include:
• How many calves are you looking to feed? Will your chosen creep feeder accommodate the that number of head?
• Will the feeder safely accommodate those same number of animals as they grow?
• How often does the feed need to be filled? How much will the creep feeder hold? Feeders that require daily filling can be time consuming and yet, producers need to keep in mind that feed sitting too long can become spoiled.
• Are you looking for a stationary feeder or a portable feeder? There’s nothing worse than filling that feeder with a 1000 pounds and then needing to move it.
• Do you refill by the bag or bulk? It is important to ask yourself what best fits your budget, schedule and your back.
• How easily is the cage removable and/or adjustable?
• What is your budget?
• What about creep feeder panels? Will those panels help in the calf feeding process in pastures, sheds, lots, or pre-weaning areas?

As calves grow and move on from creep feeders, some producers turn their attention to automatic cattle feeders. Take Hanen Automatic Cattle and Livestock Feeders for example. These automatic feeders are programmable and limit feed to the correct nutritional levels and needs of livestock through grain rationing, limiting feed waste without compromising on livestock growth. This guarantees a balanced diet throughout the day and creates a calmer, more docile animal.

According to Brad Reuber, marketing manager at Hanen, each feeder can be programmed to distribute feed up to twelve times a day. For the creep feeder experience, physical barriers can be added to only allow smaller animals to access one feeder, while another feeder can be set for the needs of larger animals.

Hanen also offers an automatic solar-powered cattle feeder, which features a rechargeable 12-volt battery system. And as the herd grows, Hanen’s traditional automatic cattle feeder has the capacity of up to 60 head to accommodate future herd growth.

“Creep feeders provide a physical barrier that only allows smaller animals access to feed, the Hanen Automatic Cattle Feeders are specifically engineered to distribute feed in a balanced schedule. This eliminates the need to put salt in the feed,” Reuber says. “Automatic feeders essentially pay for themselves by saving on feed waste and overconsumption. A recent comparative field study showed over 50% annual feed cost savings between automatic rationed feeding versus unregulated gravity self-feeding.”