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The benefits of creep feeding young stock

By Emma Peters - Technical Sales
Published 16th December 2022

Creep feeding encourages the early intake of concentrate feed by young stock, promoting early rumen development. Early rumen development is crucial to allow weaning at the youngest possible age without compromising growth rates.

Supporting growth rates at weaning can result in economic benefits by reducing the cost of feeding the mother and reaching finishing weights sooner. A well-designed creep feed will be formulated to contain highly digestible sources of energy (in the form of starch) and protein to closely replicate the nutrient profile of milk, it also includes ingredients to support the health and development of the animal and its gut.

Creep feeding is highly beneficial when:

  • Feed on offer in the paddock is limiting or of low quality, which in turn limits the ewe’s/dam’s milk production, therefore having a negative effect on lamb/calf performance.

  • The ewe’s/dam’s body condition at the time of lambing/calving is lower than ideal, contributing to a compromised milking ability and low milk quality, therefore lamb/calf growth is negatively affected.

  • Ewes/cows are already receiving supplementary feed, and weaning the lamb/calf as early as possible is desired to reduce overall feed costs.

  • The specific market for the lambs/calves requires them to reach desired weights by a target date or age.

  • Supplied to twin-bearing mobs to ensure all lambs have access to the required nutrients to support growth and development when ewe milk production may be insufficient.

Creep feeds are ideally offered in a feeder that excludes animals over a predetermined size so that feed costs are optimised. It should be offered on an ad-lib basis in conjunction with a suitable forage and effective fibre source, as well as clean, fresh water.


The average daily intake of creep feed can be used to determine when the weaning process can begin which is generally done by removing or reducing the nutrient density (e.g., protein level) of the supplementary feed being fed to the whole mob to start reducing milk production in the ewe/cow. As milk production decreases you will see a further increase in the consumption of feed in the creep feeder at which time decisions about the next stage of feeding can be made.

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