Is Creep Feeding Lambs a Profitable Undertaking?

Donald G. Ely, Endre Fink - University of Kentucky

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

The research method is not fully explained and the answer that the paper posits is not fully answered in any great detail.

What is the problem?

Creep feeding is a technique of providing feed to nursing lambs to supplement the milk they consume. Creep-fed lambs grow faster than non creep-feds and are more aggressive in nursing ewes. This aggression stimulates greater ewe milk production which, in turn, increases creep feed intake because these lambs will be bigger at a given age. Typically, the creep diet is a grain protein supplement mixture and is made available in an area constructed so lambs can enter, but ewes cannot. This research looks to understand if this methodology is profitable.

What did the research involve?

  • Unsure what research was undertaken.

What were the key findings?

Palatability of feed sources to lambs:

  • Young lambs find soybean meal to be very palatable.
  • Other feeds high on the palatability scale include ground shelled corn, cracked corn, alfalfa hay, and molasses. Soybean meal is a great source of protein.
  • Corn is a superb source of energy.
  •  Alfalfa is a highly palatable fiber source that lambs love. It provides protein and maximum amounts of calcium.
  • Molasses is a source of energy relished by lambs. It is effective in decreasing the dust associated with diets fed in a meal form, but it is an expensive source of energy.

The paper found creep feeding can be beneficial in many different production situations.

  • One of the greatest benefits is obtained when lambs are to be weaned at 56 days
  • Lambs weaned this early must be creep fed to reduce weaning stress.
  • If openings need to be wider than 7 inches, it is time to wean the lambs.
  • Numerous creep diets with many ingredient combinations are available in different forms with varying costs.

Final Comment

The paper concluded that “Simple diets based on corn and soybean will usually be the most cost-efficient. If a marketing goal is to produce 100- to 120-lb lambs 30 to 35 days earlier than those not creep-fed, creep feeding may not make ewes’ jobs any easier, but it will make the sheep enterprise more profitable”.

2014 - United States - Donald G. Ely, Endre Fink - University of Kentucky
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