Growing calves need a little different nutrition than the adult cattle. Our calves are between 3-4 months old now. They are still nursing from their moms, but they are also eating solid food (grass and hay) on their own. We also supplement them with creep feed to give them an extra boost of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
We already saw a type of creep feeder that is used in feedlots. That one was used as an all-you-can eat buffet for older cattle. Our creep feeder is designed to let the calves eat, but not let the adults get any of this feed. (They get their own corn!) The creep feeder is next to the area where we feed the adult cows, so everyone gets to hang out and eat together. (Don’t mind the weeds… we keep the part where the cattle can get to clear of weeds, just not the part where the people go!)
They heard me filling the bucket inside the barn, and know what’s coming next!
I lifted up the lid and put the creep feed in the big bin on the back. There’s a small trough on the front that the feed falls into, and the calves can eat all they want. Here, three of them are eating at the same time, while some of the others wait (not so) patiently for their turn.
When the calves are smaller, they can fit up to four inside the creep feeder gates at the same time. As they get a little bigger, they can still fit through the gate, but not as many can comfortable fit at the trough at the same time.
You can see the feed in the trough where these three calves are eating.
This heifer is over a year old. She shouldn’t be small enough to fit inside the creep feeder anymore. The spaces between the bars are narrow to keep cattle with too-broad shoulders from getting inside, and there is a bar across the top to keep the too-tall ones out.
But we had some problems with our fences over the winter. We couldn’t keep our electric fences “hot” (electrified). We wanted to keep our young heifers separate from the adult cows so they could get extra feed to keep them growing. But the heifers wouldn’t stay in their own pasture and kept breaking out to be with the grown-ups. (Can you blame them?) So the heifers were fed with the adult cows, and didn’t get quite all the nutrition they needed to grow to their full potential over the winter.
Which leaves us with heifers that are around 15 months old, and still able to fit inside the creep feeder.
We don’t mind, because they do still need the extra nutrition. We just need to be sure that we are feeding enough of the creep feed for all the heifers (three of them) and the calves (six of those) to get enough to eat every day.
But, regardless of their size, all the kiddos think this stuff is yummy!