Creep feeding can be an effective tool to increase weaning weight in calves; however, whether or not this will be a profitable strategy depends upon the value of the additional gain and the feed expense required. This tool helps producers evaluate whether or not creep feeding calves will be profitable.
- Enter the Expected Weaning Weights with and without creep feed.
- Enter the Expected Selling Price for calves not given creep feed.
- Heavier calves nearly always sell for less per pound compared to lighter counterparts. To estimate that difference, enter the Price Slide ($/lb.) A ten cent price slide indicates that increasing weights by 100 pounds results in a reduction in sales price of $0.10 per pound.
- Enter Creep Feed Cost ($ per ton).
- The expected conversion ratio is a critical component in determining whether or not creep feeding is profitable. In general, limit feeding high protein (> 20%) diets will tend to have an improved feed:gain ratio compared to diets where the calves have ad lib access. See Table 1 for estimated conversion ratios for different creep feeding programs.
- Other factors such as pasture conditions and milk production can greatly impact the results of a creep feeding program. Creep feeding is more likely to be successful when pasture quality and/or quantity is limited or when milk production is limiting performance.
- Once you have completed your values, click the Calculate button. The Results Screen will pop-up.
- The Results Screen displays your calculated results.
- The estimated amount of creep feed used is displayed.
- The value per pound of added gain and the added value in dollars per head is also calculated, as well as the feed cost per pound of added gain.
- Profit or loss is determined by subtracting the cost of the added gain from the dollar value per head that the added pounds are worth.
Table 1. Creep Feeding Conversion Ratios
(Amount Feed:Amount of added gain)
|Limit-fed, high CP (>20%)||3 to 8:1|
|Free choice, 14 – 18% CP||5 – 12:1|
Adapted from Chapter 22, “Creep Feeding Beef Calves” iGrow Beef Best Management Practices for Cow-Calf Production.