10 May 1996

with creep-feeding

How to sell earlier

Offer creep within 10 days to encourage early intakes and ensure a minimum of one feeder to 100 lambs, says the MLCs Stewart Hall.

PLACING creep feeders in areas which attract lambs will help towards earlier sales.

But Stewart Hall, sheep strategy manager with the Meat and Livestock Commission, says producers must first consider why they are creep feeding.

"At grass creep should be fed to add quality to the overall diet, not as a direct substitute. The policy is to maximise stocking and growth rates and thereby increase output a hectare," he explains.

When offered inside, feeders should be in a light area, free from draughts and well bedded. Providing a free-standing bale of straw will create a creche area which encourages lambs to congregate near the feeders.

Mr Halls practical experience shows that ready access to clean, fresh water tends to increase creep intakes both indoors and at grass.

A central dry area of a field is the optimum sighting for creep feeders outside. Otherwise Mr Hall suggests placing them near a water trough which ewes visit regularly.

"When feeding ewes at grass producers would do well to put troughs near the creep. This will encourage lambs to sniff around the feeders at feeding time."

Creep should be available ad lib, he says, and producers must check feeders arent blocked with dust and rubbish. "Palatability is relatively important. Producers using a home mix should take this into account. And creep wants to be offered when lambs are a week to 10 days old to encourage intake as soon as possible," he says.

"And increasing the number of feeders increases the value of creep feeding."