An effective feeding program is the secret to show ring success. Therefore, it’s important to know the different types of feed and their purposes. Everyone has his or her own opinion about brands of feed, but the foundation is the same.
There are three stages in feeding cattle: creep and transition, grower, and finisher. Using the proper feed for your animal is crucial to help your animal reach its prime.
Creep feeds are designed to be fed to a calf that is still nursing on the cow.
The concept is to not only supplement the calf, but also help develop the rumen and create a better carcass. Maybe your forage quality isn’t high, or perhaps the dam doesn’t produce enough milk. Creep feed will help satisfy the hunger. It will also increase the calf’s overall body composition. Creep feed also helps create a better-weaned calf.
When choosing a calf to show at jackpots, you may want to consider a creep-fed calf. Creep-fed calves aren’t as green and often show more muscle expression at a younger age.
A good creep feed has essential nutrients a calf needs while developing.
Young calves require more protein than weaned and growing calves. Creep feeds are usually 14- to 18-percent protein. They also include more calcium and phosphorus for bone development. Creep feeds are usually medicated to help prevent illness. This helps calves thrive. Most creep feeds are very high in fiber to encourage proper rumen development. The rumen is essential to effective digestion. You’ll often see cob included in creep feeds as it is high in fiber and also gives the calf fill in its rib. This helps the calf’s stomach expand. The more room in the stomach, the more feed capacity and the potential for weight gain.
Creep feeds are also low in fat. This is important because in this stage you are encouraging lean muscle growth. Providing too much fat will cause an animal to finish too early. This means it will have too much fat at its target weight.
To learn more about creep feeds, check out the article “Creep Feeding Beef Calves.”
Transition feeds are designed to help a calf move from milk and creep to a solid grain diet.
This helps a calf better adjust to a grain diet. It is important to keep the rumen balanced to keep the calf gaining weight. A smooth transition from milk to grain promotes weight gain and feed consumption. A calf fed creep feed has a much easier time adjusting due to its rumen being exposed and developed to grain.
Some calves haven’t creep fed so the transition feed acts as its name suggests: as a transitioner.
Like creep rations, the fiber in the transition feeds is high as well, usually 24 percent. This helps keep the rumen balanced. The protein in transition feed is usually less than 12 or 14 percent. We want more steady muscle growth at this stage, but we don’t want to grow the frame too large. High protein will cause the excess protein to go into bone growth rather than muscle growth. This will create a very large-framed calf that will take more muscle and time to finish. The fat percentage is slightly higher since marbling is important. Transition feeds are usually fed from 300 to 500 pounds. This sets the foundation for a quality carcass.
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