Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Animal Science (MS)
Charles R. Looney
Second Committee Member
creep feeding, supplementation, cow performance, nose flaps, cattle management
Reducing weaning stress in beef calves can have dramatic benefits to the health, growth, and performance to beef calves post-weaning. Studies have shown that providing creep feed to calves during the pre-weaning period can improve their nutritional status, which can better prepare them for the stresses they will be exposed to during the weaning process. Studies have also shown that two-stage weaning can reduce the stresses associated with weaning. Previous research has suggested that this method resulted in dramatic changes in behavioral signs associated with stress. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of two-stage weaning with or without creep feed and creep feed without two-stage weaning on early-weaned spring-born beef calves. This study was done at the University of Arkansas SWREC in Hope, Arkansas, and consisted of 253 angus crossbreed cow-calf pairs in a spring-calving system over a two-year study (n = 140 in 2019; n = 113 in 2020). Following calving, all calves were randomly allocated to four different treatments in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement. Treatment factors consisted of 1) nose flap vs no nose flap and 2) creep feed vs no creep feed. The four different treatment combinations were labeled as CON (control; no creep feed and no nose flap), NFC (nose flap with creep feed), NF (nose flap without creep feed), and CF (creep feed without nose flap). All measurements on performance were analyzed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Significance was declared at P ≤ 0.05 and tendencies at 0.05 < P ≤ 0.10. There were no interactions between nose flap and creep feed treatments on any calf measurements. Body weights of CF and NFC calves tended to have greater (P = 0.06) average BW one week prior to weaning compared to CON and NF calves. Calf BW at weaning were 16.4 kg. greater (P < 0.01) for CF and NFC calves compared to NF and CON calves. Both creep feed treatments averaged 20.1 kg greater (P = 0.03) average BW one month after weaning compared to NF and CON calves. Calf ADG was affected by creep feed from initial BW to weaning BW with calves receiving creep feed tending to have greater (P = 0.07) ADG compared to NF and CON calves. However, NF and NFC calves tended to have lower (P = 0.08) ADG from initial BW to one-month post-weaning BW compared to CON and CF calves. There were no significant differences (P = 0.49; P = 0.71) in creep feed consumption in weeks four and five between the CF and NFC treatments. Although not statistically significant (P = 0.71), average creep feed consumption of pastures containing calves from the NFC treatment in week five was 18.60 kg. greater than the average consumption of calves in the CF treatment. In conclusion, these results suggest that creep feeding prior to weaning can improve calf BW pre- and post-weaning, and two-stage weaning without supplementation prior to weaning can have a negative impact on performance.
Hahn, M. D. (2021). Methods to Reducing Weaning Stress in Early Weaned Spring Beef Calves. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/4068