The Effect of Pelleting Creep Feed with Field Pea Grain on Nursing Calf Performance

B. R. Ilse, V.L. Anderson, and J.P. Schoonmaker



Field pea grain is an appealing nutrient-dense feed that contains a crude protein level of approximately 24.5% and 88% energy or TDN. Field pea grain has been proven to be an attractive ingredient in creep feeds with increased feed intake and gain with increasing inclusion of peas up to 67% of the diet. Recent feeding trials that included field pea grain in a creep ration indicated disparity of calf performance due to the processing of the field pea grain. The objective of this trial was to determine if there are any effects on calf performance from pelleting a creep feed with field pea grain in the ration versus providing a non-pelleted feed of the same formulation.


Experimental Procedures

One hundred-five cow-calf pairs were allotted by weight (cow and calf weight), breed composition, age of cow, and sex of calf to one of two field pea grain creep diets. The treatments were creep feeds with field pea grain fed as a pelleted feed or a non-pelleted feed. Three replicates were used for each treatment, two pens of mature cows and one pen of first-calf heifers were assigned to each treatment. Creep diets contained 16.5% crude protein, and 51.6 MCal/cwt NEg. Field pea grain was included in the creep ration at 40% of the dry matter. The Northern Crops Institute, Fargo, North Dakota, pelleted the field pea grain ration and the total-mixed field pea ration was mixed on site. The trial was initiated on August 2 and concluded September 27, 2005, when calves were weaned. Calves were weighed individually at the start of the study, on day 28 and at the end of the study. Two 28-day weigh periods were used to observe feed intake and gain.


Results and Discussion

Calf gain and average daily gains are reported in Table 1. Calves fed the two creep diets consumed the same amount of feed and gained the same overall (P< 0.18). However, during the second 28-day period, the calves fed the mixed-creep ration tended to gain more (P<.06) at 3.36 lbs. per day vs. 3.14 for the pelleted creep feed.



Pelleting of field pea grain does not appear to be critical for calf performance. Benefits of pelleting creep feeds with field pea grain include the binding qualities, reduction in fines, storage, handling, and the consistency of a creep ration. Commercial feed manufacturers may use field pea grain in creep feeds to reduce fines and make a more durable pellet. Anecdotal data suggests peas improve pellet binding and durability at as little as 10% of the formulation.