How to stop the costs from creep-ing up

Farmers aiming for the Easter market may be thinking about creep feeding their lambs – but what are the benefits versus the cost?

The key is to keep lambs growing as quickly and economically as possible, while meeting the demands of a market driven by low price and top quality.

And the need for high daily liveweight gains, when grass is limited, can lead to a balancing act between the cost of creep feeding, growth rates and hitting the lucrative spring market on time.

Feed conversion efficiency will vary from 4:1 before weaning to 12:1 post weaning, which is why introducing creep feed early is more beneficial.

Creep fed lambs should grow 350 to 400g a day allowing lambs to reach slaughter at between 12 to 14 weeks. Creep fed lambs are going to mature earlier and hopefully command a better price. When aiming for the Easter market creep feeding also helps with more uniform growth rates.

At Mole Valley Farmers our Multi Lamb is one of the leading creep pellets on the market, containing 18% crude protein, as well as wheat, barley, maize, soya and sugar beet. We also offer another 18% crude protein creep called Rapid Lamb. Both formulas also contain yeast for improved rumen microbial colonisation.

A lamb’s growth rate is at its highest when young, while the ewes milk peaks in quantity and quality at between four and five weeks post lambing. Then the need for feed supplementation increases with 50% of its nutritional requirement from dry feed. This will also help with rumen development.

Here are a few tips for giving your early lambs the best chance possible:

  • When choosing a creep feed look for energy levels of around 12.5 to 13 metabolisable energy (ME) and an 18% crude protein (CP), to encourage good frame growth
  • An alternative to buying a ready-made creep is to mix your own ration with cereals, sugar beet and a protein pellet. It’s important to include ammonium chloride to help prevent kidney stones
  • Lamb creep should be introduced when lambs are seven to fourteen days old and inquisitive
  • The feed offered needs to be consistent, clean and fresh
  • Do not let creep feeders become empty - there is a risk lambs may gorge once filled up
  • Creep feeders should be kept clean as lambs will not eat out of a wet or dirty feeder Waste creep can be fed to ewes
  • Lime can be applied to the creep area to help prevent scald
  • Creep feeding can increase the risk of coccidiosis, an intestinal tract infection, so cleanliness is important. If coccidiosis occurs, then Deccox can be added to lamb creep feed
  • It is important to provide clean fresh, accessible water for lambs at all times

For more information, please contact the Feed and Nutritionists Line on 01278 444829