Effects of Including Flax in Creep Feed on Grazing and Feedlot Performance of Beef Steers

 

Travis  Maddock, Brian Kreft, Trent Gilbery, Vern Anderson, and Greg Lardy

NDSU, Carrington Research Extension Center

 

Introduction

Creep feed has been shown to increase the performance of nursing calves (Faulkner et al., 1994; Lardy et al., 2001) and is commonly used in North Dakota to increase weaning weights and prepare calves for feed consumption post-weaning.  Flax is an oilseed that when included in beef diets increases feedlot performance and efficiency (Maddock et al., 2003) and healthfulness of receiving calves (Farren et al., 2002).  However, no studies have investigated the effects of adding flax to creep feeds offered to nursing calves.  The objective of this trial was to determine if feeding flax to nursing calves would affect grazing and subsequent feedlot performance.

 

Materials and Methods

Ninety-six (steers) pairs at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center (CGREC) were stratified by cow age and calf weight and then allotted to one of 12 pastures (8 pairs per pasture). Each pasture was assigned randomly to one of four treatments in a completely randomized design. Treatments were 1) a no creep control 2) a commercial (wheat midds and soy hulls) creep feed, 3) creep feed that includes flax at 12.5 percent of DM or 4) creep feed that includes flax at 25 percent of DM. Diet composition is presented in Table 1. During the initial 21 days of the feeding period, the commercial creep feed was offered ad libitum to adjust calves to feed and creep feeders.  Following this adjustment, calves were switched to treatment diets, which were offered ad libitum for 37 days. Feed intake was measured once weekly. At weaning, calves were weighed and placed on a backgrounding ration for 98 days, after which they were transported to the Carrington Research Extension Center (CREC) and were placed on a common finishing diet until harvest (143 days). During the backgrounding and finishing periods, cattle were observed for health and performance was recorded.


 

Table 1. Composition of Experimental Diets (100% Dry Basis)

 

 

Diets

Item, %

Energy Creep

12.5% Flax

25% Flax

Wheat Midds

55.0

26.0

--

Soy Hulls

39.5

56.0

69.5

Flax

--

12.5

25.0

Molasses

4.2

4.2

4.2

Limestone

1.3

1.3

--

Dicalcium Phosphate

--

--

1.3

Crude Protein

14.44

14.44

14.61

Calcium

0.76

0.81

0.68

Phosphorous

0.63

0.43

0.51

 


Results and Conclusions

Flax addition, regardless of level, had no affect (P > 0.10) on creep feed intake (6.32 ± 0.35 lbs/d).  Cow and calf performance and subsequent feedlot performance data are presented in Table 2.  No differences were noted between treatments for cow performance, nursing calf performance, or subsequent feedlot performance.  These data would indicate that the inclusion of flax in creep feeds has no effect on calf performance.


 

 

Table 2. Flax Creep Feed Effects on Lactating Cow and Calf Performance

 

 

Diets

 

 

Item

Control

Energy

Creep

12.5%

Flax

25%

Flax

SE

P-value

 

--Nursing Period (8/11/03 – 10/09/2003--

Cow (lb/d)

-1.02

-0.81

-0.78

-1.10

0.13

0.14

Calf (lb/d)

2.96

3.18

3.17

3.22

0.08

0.17

 

--Backgrounding Period (10/09/03 – 1/15/2004)--

Calf (lb/d)

2.87

2.92

2.97

3.00

0.09

0.73

 

--Finishing Period (1/15/03 – 6/07/2004)--

Calf (lb/d)

3.14

2.96

2.90

2.82

0.14

0.44

 


 


Literature Cited

Farren, T. B., J. S. Drouillard, D. A. Blasi, H. J. LaBrune, S. P. Montgomery, J. J. Sindt, C. M. Coetzer, R. D. Hunter, and J. J. Higgens. 2002. Evaluation of performance in receiving heifers fed different sources of dietary lipid. Pages 1-4 in Proc. 2002 Cattlemen’s Day, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan.

Faulkner, D.B., D. F. Hummel, D. D. Buskirk, L. L. Berger, D. F. Parrett, and F. G. Cmarik. 1994. Performance and nutrient metabolism by nursing calves supplemented with limited or unlimited corn or soyhulls. J. Anim. Sci. 72:470-477.

Lardy, G. P., D. C> Adams, T. J. Klopfenstein, R. T. Clark, and J. Emerson. 2001. Escape protein and weaning effects on calves grazing meadow regrowth. J. Range Manage. 54:233-238.

Maddock, T.D., V.L. Anderson, R.J. Maddock, M. L. Bauer, and G. P. Lardy. 2003. Effect of processing flax in feedlot diets on beef heifer performance, carcass composition, and trained sensory panel evaluations. Pages 27-30 in 2003 Unified Beef Cattle and Range Research Report, North Dakota State Univ., Fargo.