Effect of Creep Feeding Pressed Block and Salt-Limited Pellets to Beef Calves

T.C. Gilbery, M.H Knight, G. P. Lardy, B. Kreft and J.S. Caton


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Impact Statement


Creep feeding is an effective method of increasing weaning weights for calves. Salt can be used in creep diets to limit intake of calves, limiting creep feeding costs and controlling intake levels. It is important for creep feed to be palatable to calves when initially offered. Salt levels can be stepped up to control intake once calves are on feed.

  

Lower labor and equipment costs associated with pressed blocks make this method of creep feeding attractive. The hardness of the pressed block may be an effective method to limit creep feed intake by beef calves.


Summary


A study was conducted at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center near Streeter, ND to evaluate creep feed diets fed to beef calves. Treatments were: control (no creep), pressed blocks, (26% crude protein; weight = 33 lb) and salt-limited pellets (26% crude protein). One hundred eighteen cow-calf pairs were allotted to 12 native pastures. Initial average weight for the cows was 1329 + 24 lb and the calves had an average weight of 353.4 + 6.1 lb. The pellets and blocks were formulated using soybean meal, distiller’s grain, and wheat middlings as the major ingredient (Table 1). Data of interest were: cow performance, cow body condition score change, calf performance and creep intake. Calves fed creep feed gained significantly more weight (P =0.02) than calves not receiving creep feed. No difference in calf performance between the blocks or the pellets was noted (P=0.36). No difference in cow performance was noted (P=0.70). No difference in dry matter intake was noted when comparing pressed block to pelleted creep feed (P=0.34).


Table 1. Creep feed formulas for calf creeps used in the study.

 

% of mix as fed basis

Ingredient name

Salt - limited pellet

Pressed block

Soybean meal (44%)

Dried distillers grain

Salt

Wheat midds

Beet molasses

Sunflower meal

Dicalcium phosphate

Lignin binder

Calcium oxide

Selenium premix

Vitamin premix

Trace mineral premix

Calcium carbonate

36.265

20.000

15.825

14.500

5.000

5.000

1.600

0.835

0.500

0.200

0.150

0.125

--

29.750

20.000

4.825

32.015

5.000

5.000

1.100

0.835

0.500

0.200

0.150

0.125

0.500

 

 

Materials and Methods


The study site was a wagon wheel arrangement with twelve individual pastures in the Wheatgrass - Needlegrass vegetation association of the Northern Great Plains (Barker and Whitman, 1989). Angus-cross cattle cow-calf pairs (n =118; initial body weight = 1329 + 24 lb and 353.4 + 6.1 lb, respectively) were allotted randomly to 12 pastures. Treatments were: control (no creep), pressed blocks, (26% crude protein; weight =33 lb) and salt-limited pellets (26% crude protein). The pellet and block diets were formulated using soybean meal, distiller’s grain, and wheat middlings as the major ingredient (Table 1). Salt-limited pellets contained 15.8% salt. Creep feeding duration was eighty-five days. Cows were third calf parity or higher. All cows and calves had access to a trace mineral and shared a common water source. Cow-calf pairs were sorted by calf and dam age, and then assigned to a treatment.

Pelleted creep feed was placed in a portable self-feeder with calf enclosures. The pressed block was placed in a wood bunk and enclosed within four sixteen-foot wire panels with two openings to allow calf passage but not cow entry. Calves were initially offered pellets containing 16% salt from day 0 to 29 and calves refused to consume the creep feed; therefore, salt inclusion was reduced to 0% from day 30 to 53 to encourage intake, which then averaged 3.2 lb/day (dry matter basis). During the final 30 days, salt was added back to the pellet supplement: from day 54 to 69 the pellet treatment contained 8% salt and intake averaged 3.7 lb/day (dry matter basis), and from day 70 to 85 inclusion was increased to 16% salt and average intake decreased to 2.6 lb/day (dry matter basis). Feed intake remained relatively constant for the pressed block diet throughout the trial (avg. intake = 1.2 lb/day). Creep feeders were checked on a daily basis and all feed added was recorded. Weigh-back of feed occurred weekly until it was determined that calves were on feed, at which point feed weigh-backs were scheduled every 14 days. Cow and calf weights were recorded three times during the trial. Body condition scores of cows were recorded on weigh-days.


GLM procedures of SAS (6.11) were used to analyze the data. “Pasture” served as the experimental unit. When significant differences were noted, contrasts were used to compare the control treatment to the two creep feed treatments and to compare the salt-limited pellet to the pressed block treatment.


Results and Discussion


Creep fed calves had greater gain compared with controls (225.8 vs. 205.8 + 5.69 lb; P = 0.02) (Table 2). There was no difference (P= 0.36) in gain between calves fed the two creep diets. By design, calves receiving creep had higher dry matter intakes than controls (P = 0.03); however, intakes were similar on the creep fed diets (P = 0.34; Table 2). One of the pastures with pellets (Pasture 3) had no consumption of creep throughout the trial. When pasture 3 was excluded from the analysis, and a contrast was run between the block and the pellet creep, dry matter intake levels were notably higher for the pellet treatment (P=0.03; 1.22 lb/day vs. 2.55 lb/day; for block vs. pellet respectively). Body condition score change on the cows was not different among treatments (P =0.13; Table 3). Likewise, cow weight change was not different among treatments (P = 0.7; Table 3).

 

Table 2. Effect of calf creep treatments on dry matter intake and calf weight change.

 

Contrast P Value

 

Control

Block

Pellets

Std Err

Overall P Value

Control vs. Creep

Block vs. Pellet

 Dry matter intake (lb/day)

    0.0

      1.22

     1.92

   0.49

0.06

.03

.34

 Calf initial wt., lb

353.1

352.4

354.8

6.1

0.96

.95

.78

 Calf end wt., lb

558.9

574.4

584.5

6.9

0.07

.04

.32

 Calf gain, lb

205.8

221.9

229.7

5.7

0.04

.02

.36


Table 3. Effect of calf creep treatment on cow weight and condition change.


 

Control

Block

Pellets

Std Err

Overall

 P value

Initial weight, lb.

1359

1312

1317

25

0.38

Final weight, lb.

1387

1335

1351

28

0.44

Cow weight gain, lb.

27

24

34

9

0.70

Initial body condition score

5.94

5.87

5.81

0.07

0.47

Final body condition score

5.07

4.98

5.03

0.05

0.55

Cow body condition score change

-0.86

-0.88

-0.77

0.03

0.13

 

 

Conclusion


Creep feeding is an effective method of increasing weaning weights for calves. Salt can be used in creep diets to limit intake of calves, limiting costs and controlling intake levels. It is important for creep feed to be palatable to calves when initially offered. Salt levels can be stepped up to control intake once calves are on feed.


Lower labor and equipment costs associated with pressed blocks make this method of creepfeeding attractive. The hardness of the pressed block may be an effective method to limit creep feed intake by beef calves.
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NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center
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