How to Build a Creep Feeding Calf Pen Out of Landscape Timbers
Creep feeding is a method of providing nursing calves with extra nutrition, protected so that the adult cattle cannot reach it. This is generally done with a combination of horizontal and vertical beams that are solid enough to keep the older cattle out, but spaced so that the calves can pass through them. A simple creep feeder can be built easily from landscape timbers.
Determine where the creep feeder will be installed. The simplest setup is a small pen built next to the side of a barn and sheltered by the barn roof or an overhang. This allows you to use the barn for one side of the creep feeder.
Measure the area for the pen. Mark where the first two posts will go. These should be set as closely as possible to the barn and 8 feet apart. Coming out at right angles to the barn will be two more posts, 4 feet out from the first ones, and two more, 4 feet from those. At this point the pen area should measure 8 feet by 8 feet.
Mark locations for two posts across the front, one to be set 20 inches from the left front corner and one to be set 20 inches from the right front corner. Mark one more spot 28 inches from these posts, giving you a total of five marks across the front.
Dig a post hole in each marked spot. Holes should be at least 18 inches deep. Set a 6-foot-long timber in each hole, fill the hole with gravel, cement or tightly packed dirt. Use the level to check as you fill to be sure each post is vertical. The post should be very solidly set when you are done.
Attach four 8-foot-long timbers horizontally between the back corner post and the front corner post on each side of the pen. Put one timber at the top of the posts, and space three more 13 ½ inches apart down each side of the pen. Use wood screws to attach the horizontal timbers securely to the posts.
Attach one 8-foot-long landscape timber across the top of the front posts. Put a second 8-foot timber 12 inches below the top one, and a third one 10 inches below that. Use wood screws to secure all three horizontal timbers to both corner posts as well as to the other three posts spaced across the front of the pen.
Screw the two 56-inch timbers across the three center posts in the front of the pen, leaving an opening on either side, to create the entrances to the creep pen. Space these timbers approximately 12 inches apart. You will now have an enclosed pen with 20-inch-wide openings at the left and right front corners. The openings should be 32 inches high. This size will allow the younger calves to enter but keep out the other cattle.
Things You Will Need
- Measuring tape
- Marking paint
- Post hole digger
- 9 Landscape timbers, 6 feet long by 4 inches thick
- 11 Landscape timbers, 8 feet long by 3 to 4 inches thick
- 2 Landscape timbers, 56 inches long
- 4- to 5-inch-long heavy wood screws
- If you have older cattle that try to push into the creep area, use an electric hot wire around the outside to discourage them. You can also brace the pen with timbers run diagonally on the inside of the creep pen.
- Timbers may have splinters. Wear gloves when handling them.
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Extra Pounds on Weaned Calves May Pay Dividends; Shelby Filley
- University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service and North Dakota State University: Movable Calf Creep Feeder
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Early Weaning of Beef Calves; Max Irsik; March 2007