The time between Christmas and the New Year is a special time of the year. All the festivities surrounding Christmas are still being celebrated and the preparation for the end of the year or the New Year, however you view it, is fully at hand. It’s normally a time for families to get together and often reminisce about the past year(s).
By now, more and more producers are learning about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that will bring about a change in regulating feed-through antibiotics. There’s been a lot of recent popular press and blog chatter on this subject. The intent of the rule, now finalized, isn’t really that different from when it was introduced and debated at the Food and Drug Administration in 2009. The industry comment period has resulting in some changes related to documentation. The final rules have been published this year (June), and have already taken affect for some drugs and more (the main ones concerned in cattle feeds) will go into effect on January 1, 2017.
Well, there’s a lot of news right now about the volatility in the cattle markets. Obviously a lot of it is uncomfortable) to read or listen to, and it makes for real spirited or depressing conversation at the corner café (pick your emotion). Still, it’s always best to keep a positive frame of mind and be looking at opportunities. The last time calves sold for $2.00, people were pretty doggone happy about it. Now, I’m not trying to say that we should be happy with a cattle market that’s lost $50/Cwt in a very short period of time but I am saying that the cow-calf business is still alive and well.
The CRYSTALYX® Earn to Learn™ program is back for another year and better than ever. This blog discussion is not about the performance of CRYSTALYX® on livestock, rather about today’s youth in agriculture; which is our future. The future of CRYSTALYX® is not only about cows but kids too.
I was recently in Las Vegas for an event with a long time distributor of CRYSTALYX® and valuable customer. I’ve been to Las Vegas several times and it is a fun place. Entertainment and gambling as we know is what makes money in Las Vegas. I often hear stories from people who brag about how much money they make gambling, but they are only the lucky few. If gambling paid for the gambler, Vegas wouldn’t have much to offer.
Late in the summer of 2014, CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements came with a new launch, or better described, a new approach of product programs. There really wasn’t any new product, except for one; rather a reformulation of a few and a “categorical” look at different programs. We call this our Economy, Balanced and Premium categories. There were a few blogs written in the latter half of 2014 that mentioned these product categories so I won’t elaborate on the details of each.
The success of the CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® family of products has been significant, and for a lot of reasons. One reason is that the Breed-Up® line provides twice the required trace minerals and vitamins for beef cattle at typical intake levels, and this makes sense to provide during the last trimester of pregnancy, and in early lactation when a cow’s nutrient requirements are the highest. Continuing a high plane of nutrition is important up to and “through the breeding season.” But just when is the breeding season through? Is it once the animal is bred; is it 45 days, 60 days? Nutrition post breeding is just as critical, if not more depending on management, types of feedstuffs/forages and/or grazing systems.
Nutritionist and feed professionals like to talk a lot about pre-calving nutrition, and stress the fact that a cow’s nutrient requirements climb in the last trimester of pregnancy. This is true and good body condition matters at this time in the reproductive cycle. Still, we may get a little too caught up in this message and overlook the period between calving and breeding; the post-partum interval. In the past several years, we’ve seen a great deal of success in using the CRYSTALYX® Breed-Up® products starting 1-2 months prior to calving. Calves hit the ground healthier and more vigorously, cows clean well and all is good for cow calf, and cowboy’s alike.
We CRYSTALYX® Bloggers have written several articles about cattle grazing cornstalks and other crop residues. In Nebraska, I often refer to cornstalk residue as our “winter pasture”. In most years, this is a very abundant and relatively inexpensive feed resource and of decent quality. Much information has been written and studied by university extension services in a multitude of states about the effects of cornstalk grazing on cow performance, subsequent grain yield, the need (or not) of protein supplementation etc.
Raising replacement heifers has been studied a lot. As times and cattle have changed, so have some of the systems used to develop replacement heifers. A better focus on low cost development and selection for fertility and longevity makes economic sense. Traditional development programs recommend breeding heifers at 60-65% of their mature body weight as most heifers should have reached puberty by the time they reach this weight. More recently it’s been well documented that conception rates of 85% or greater can be achieved with heifers being bred at 50-60% of their mature weight. Perhaps heifers are reaching puberty earlier or at a lower percent of their mature weight today due to improved genetics, and larger mature cow size vs 20 years ago.