Sheep

Creep Feeding Lambs

Wellness : Nutrition

Mark Johnson,

Sheep Field Specialist

Getting young lambs off to a good start sets the table for the potential for a healthy, fast growing, profitable lamb. Creep feeding young lambs provides an opportunity to get lambs started on feed at a much younger age. These lambs then have the potential for optimal weaning weights and can have added bloom and finish.
 
Lambs that have been fed lamb creep feed rations often experience less stress at weaning as they are used to being fed. Minimizing stress at weaning can positively impact health and performance.
 
Here are some tips for successfully creep feeding your lambs:

Lamb creep pen

A creep pen is designed for young lambs to have access to additional feed concentrates separate from their mothers and other mature sheep.
 
A lamb creep pen should be set up to allow the lambs continuous access to fresh creep feed and a clean and dry environment. The creep gate should be adjusted to ensure access for the lambs but prevent the ewes from gaining access to the creep pen and lamb creep feeder. The creep area should be large enough for several lambs to eat at one time.
 
A heat lamp or light is often used in colder climates to encourage lambs to find the creep pen. The creep pen and feeder should be setup and available shortly after the ewes and lambs are let out of the lambing pens. The young lambs will soon find that the clean, dry, well-lit creep pen is good place to find feed. Lambs will often explore the creep pen or even nibble on hay or grain in the creep pen as early as 5-7 days of age. However, most lambs will not eat much creep feed until 4-5 weeks of age.

Lamb creep feeders

Whether using a self-feeder or a handfeeding, the lamb creep feeders need to be clean. Lambs won’t eat out of a feeder that is dirty or wet. Make sure the lamb creep feeder is free from manure, dirt, straw and excessive moisture. Most sheep breeders will keep feed in the creep feeder at all times. This ensures every lamb will have access to feed every time it goes in the creep pen. Many producers also like to keep good fine stemmed hay available in the creep pen.

Choosing the best creep feed for lambsA trough of Purina lamb creep feed starter hangs on a fence in a pen.

A lamb creep feed ration should be between 15-20 percent crude protein, 2-5.5 percent fat and a 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. The specific feed that works best will be determined by the genetic make-up of the sheep and the intended market. For example, purebred breeders may like a 20 percent creep pellet for added growth. Club Lamb producers like added fat to produce bloomier lambs at sale time. Some producers like the consistency of feeding a 16 percent to both the ewes and lambs and through the lambs’ grower phase.
 
Lamb creep feeds need to contain something to help control or prevent coccidiosis in lambs. Both Decoquinate (trade name, Deccox) and lasalocid (trade name, Bovatec) are approved for prevention of coccidia in sheep. A Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is not required for these products.
 
A smaller pellet is currently the most popular choice for creep feeding lambs. The smaller pellet is preferred by the younger lambs and prevents the sorting that is often found in a texturized or mixed feed. Some producers will make their own lamb creep feed rations on farm. The correct sheep feed pellets, maintaining consistent particle size and too many fines are all challenges with on-farm mixing.

Purina lamb creep feed options include: 

Special Lamb Creep B90
  • Our popular low-fat commercial Purina lamb creep feed is a pelleted ration that features a 20 percent protein and 2 percent fat guarantee. Medicated with Bovatec® to help prevent coccidiosis.
Honor® Show Chow® Showlamb Creep DX30
  • In my opinion, this is one of the best lamb creep feeds on the market. A complete feed designed for lambs up to 75 lbs. it’s a very palatable, mini pellet with Deccox® to help prevent coccidiosis. 20 percent protein and 5 percent fat will help your lambs grow and shine but won’t burn out. Features Puraferm®, Zinpro® and Diamond V®.
Purina® Delta Lamb & Ewe Breeder DX30
  • The innovative product design allows you to feed lambs and ewes together, changing the way you feed. Purina® Delta Lamb & Ewe Breeder feed helps aid early feed adoption in lambs and helps optimize sheep milk production and maintain body condition. The small pellet size and high fat content provides a highly palatable ration that helps get lambs off to a great start and keeps ewes in great condition after lambing. Contains Deccox® to help control coccidiosis, Ammonium Chloride to help prevent urinary calculi and added Vitamin E and Selenium.
Purina® Lamb Starter
  • Our 16 percent protein, 1.5 percent fat non-medicated complete lamb creep freed rations get lambs off to a solid start. 
Honor® Show Chow® EXP 15 Pellet DX
  • Designed as a top shelf show feed and a great creep for wether lambs. This popular creep can be used as a grower/finisher and helps optimize early intake and helps make lambs bloom and shine quickly. A mini pellet that is a high-energy formula with 15 percent protein and 5.5 percent fat and medicated with Deccox®, it also features all you would expect from a show feed including Puraferm®, Tasco®, Zinpro® and Diamond V®.
Contact your local Purina® dealer to see which of these Purina lamb creep feed products are available in your area.