This is a topic that I have tried on several occasions to write about but thought that it might be too ambiguous in terms of what could possibly be written that would seem valuable enough or intriguing enough to be read by cow-calf producers. What has kept this topic simmering on the backburner have been observations not only at work but also with my kids at home.
A customer very familiar with how well CRYSTALYX® Brigade® works on stressed calves at weaning time, once told me, “There are only two things wrong with Brigade®, it doesn’t cost enough, and it is too easy.” While that is humorous, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Brigade® will cost about 14 cents per head per day. In a typical 28 day receiving period, that is about $4 per head.
The sale barn is a great way for producers to discover the value of their calves, yet it can have a negative connotation when talking about animal health. The trip to and from as well as the sights, sounds and smells of the sale barn put stress on the animals, resulting in challenges to the immune system. However, cattlemen can give their animals a helping hand by providing them with proper nutrition to support immune function and gut health.
The cow calf producer is faced with the perpetual question of how to market the calf crop and maximize profit potential. The answer varies each year depending on the forage situation, management capabilities and current economics of the beef market. More calves are on the market with the expanded cow herd. On many operations calves are marketed at or shortly after weaning, and there is typically a glut of calves available in October and November which historically has the lowest calf prices of the year. Feeder cattle prices typically improve in the spring months compared to the seasonal low at weaning. What is required to hold calves to a later date, market them at a heavier weight, and increase the income per calf?
Many of us have seen daily news and social media updates regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In particular, those of us in the ag community have an interest in both livestock and companion animals that have been impacted by the flooding. There has been daily coverage of livestock being moved out of flooded areas, desperate to find higher ground. For those who are familiar with Gulf Coast grazing lands and the endless acres of low-lying, boggy, marshy pastures, we understand the challenges associated with their efforts. The recovery ahead will take not only a few days or weeks, but many months and perhaps even more.
Using CRYSTALYX® in weaning & receiving programs is well established and promoted. In a CRYSTALYX® weaning program, products such as Beef-Lyx®, Brigade®, or Battalion® are placed with newly weaned calves or with cow-calf pairs a couple of weeks ahead of cow-calf separation. CRYSTALYX® is then left with calves for about a month until they are on feed and completely weaned. In this blog, I will review these different CRYSTALYX® products. There are distinct fortification differences between the three and one may fit better depending on the weaning strategy.
Stress... it's part of life. Whether it's caused by work, school, neighbors, we all deal with it in our own way and move on. Livestock experience stress too. We tend to focus on stress in calves and feedlot cattle and how that affects performance and ultimately the bottom line. But what about the cows in the pasture? To be honest, I never really thought about it either. This year’s wildfires and weather have brought it to mind several times though, do cow have a memory for stressful events?
As we enter the later part of the summer, many farms and ranches may find themselves short of grass. In the upper plains, the main reason may be due to drought conditions and in other areas it may be due to stocking rate combined with weather issues. I travel in areas of expensive farm ground where the availability of pasture land is still an issue. Several producers have added cows more quickly than pasture has become available or available at a reasonable cost. We have yet to see corn and bean ground going back into grassland at an appreciable rate. Whatever the reason of forage shortage, the decision to early wean can benefit the cow by reducing the nutrient demand for lactation and allowing her to regain body condition.
One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to attend professional meetings and learn about the work of other scientists. One of the more interesting sessions at the recent joint meeting of the American Society of Animal Science and Canadian Society of Animal Science was about functional foods of animal origin.