Choosing a creep feeder
Radio interview source: Dr. Jane Parish, Extension Beef Specialist, Mississippi State University
Creep feeding provides additional nutrients to nursing livestock, and helps them transition to dry food. The feeder you choose depends on your operation. Jane Parish is an extension beef specialist at Mississippi State University. She says the idea behind a creep feeder is to allow feedstuff access to the younger animals, but not the adults. A feeder can be homemade or purchased, depending on your animals.
"From the low-tech end, some people will just put a trough out with some feed and it will be totally uncovered, and what they'll do is they'll develop a creep gate around it," Parish says. "So they'll put panels around it, and then one of those panels will be a creep gate which could be purchased, or it can be built, and it needs to be adjustable to the size of the calf. Generally those openings are about 16-20" wide, and they're about 3-feet-to-maybe-even-42-inches-tall."
Commercial feeders can be bought for up to several-hundred-dollars, or in some cases, rented. They will usually be covered feed bunks, with creep gates included. But if you have a small herd, you can probably mount simple creep feeders that you pick up for under $50 each. Keep in mind that the smaller the feeder, the more often you will have to fill it. If you have a large pasture, you may need multiple feeders.
Parish notes that creep feeders have multiple uses. "Sometimes it's forage. Maybe it's a matter of there's some high-quality winter-raising that you don't have enough to go around for everyone, but there's enough for the calves to creep graze. You might have a gate that way, somewhere in the fenceline that only the calves can get through."
Before you decide to creep feed, be sure it's the right economic decision for you. The factors to weigh include the cost of the feeder, feed prices, and the length of time your animals will be creep fed.
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