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A summer mineral program for stockers using CRYSTALYX Iono-lyx

I believe everyone is ready to put the winter and spring of 2020 behind us. We now see green grass everywhere and we are waiting for the economy to reboot. Hopefully, beef demand, consumption, exports and slaughter capacity will get back to whatever we once thought was “normal.” 

When grass is at its greenest, one may think that grazing yearlings or stockers would see no benefit from a supplement, but while our homegrown forages are certainly higher in protein when they are green, they are not exactly perfect. Trace minerals can still be deficient when grasses are green. Additionally, a feed additive like Bovatec®, an ionophore, can increase your stocker gains on grass by about 10% — even when the grass is greenest. What else can you do from a management standpoint to increase the rate of gain on a set number of cattle and on a set number of acres grazed? This seems like an easy question to answer, and yet, there are thousands of stockers grazing without an ionophore every season.

RELATED: A new formulation for CRYSTALYX Iono-lyx

CRYSTALYX® is the only national brand of low-moisture block supplements that has an FDA-approved product that can deliver Bovatec through the ease of a self-fed low-moisture block supplement. That product is called Iono-lyx®.

Iono-lyx has been available to CRYSTALYX dealers and customers for more than 16 years. It is a complete supplement containing macro and trace minerals, vitamins and protein, in addition to Bovatec. I covered Iono-lyx in depth in an article last fall, when we updated the formula to include Bioplex® organic trace minerals.

You will need to supply white salt separately from the Iono-lyx barrels. The exact FDA-approved claim on the label reads:

For increased rate of weight gain in pasture cattle (slaughter, stocker, and feeder cattle and beef replacement heifers).

When evaluating Iono-lyx for your operation, you should consider its four main features:

  1. Iono-lyx contains 300 grams per ton of Bovatec.  
  2. Iono-lyx contains 28% crude protein. 
  3. As mentioned before, Iono-lyx now contains Bioplex organic trace minerals. 
  4. Finally, Iono-lyx is a complete self-fed supplement. 

I am often asked about the protein included in Iono-lyx, given that it is not needed when the grass is green in May and June and, sometimes, during part of July in wetter years. While I wish we could offer two formulas for Iono-lyx — one with protein and one without — we only offer one, and it contains 28% protein. Getting a free-choice medicated formula approved with the FDA is a long, expensive and complicated process, and it is also not a sure deal. For these reasons and others, we chose to develop just one formula for Iono-lyx that includes added protein. This makes sense during the nine months of the year when protein is almost always limited in stocker or replacement heifer diets.

While you may not “need” the protein in Iono-lyx from May to June or July, Iono-lyx will still give you improved performance in those months due to its mineral and vitamin supplementation, in addition to the Bovatec included therein. Once forages mature — and protein levels drop — in July or August, the supplemental protein in Iono-lyx will actually give you a bigger boost in weight gain than the Bovatec. The impact of Bovatec and the supplemental protein will be even more noticeable and will add to the effect Iono-lyx will have on your herd. 

During the months of May and June, when grass is at its greenest, you will likely see intakes of Iono-lyx at around half a pound. This costs around 30 cents a day. As such, depending on the price of feeder cattle, Iono-lyx could give you a return on investment (ROI) of 1.5:1 to 2:1. As the summer progresses, intakes of Iono-lyx will increase as forage quality decreases. However, this is also the time when supplemental protein helps boost gains. You will continue to see that ROI of 1.5:1 to 2:1 even with the higher intake of Iono-lyx in the late summer and fall.

You can start feeding Iono-lyx right now and leave it out with your stocker cattle until you sell them this fall. Iono-lyx also works great for developing replacement heifers or backgrounding calves through the winter months. Remember that research has shown that heifers provided with an ionophore reached puberty at an earlier age and at a lighter weight than heifers fed similar diets that did not include an ionophore. This is important because it should translate to a higher percentage of heifers cycling at the normal time of the start of the breeding season and, as a result, they should also conceive earlier in the breeding season. These heifers are more likely to remain in the breeding herd than heifers that conceive later in the season.

CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements are an excellent way to provide a consistent, controlled intake of additives, protein, minerals and vitamins that are only found in minimal amounts in your forages. CRYSTALYX self-fed supplements are available to your herd 24/7, helping minimize your investment in time, labor and equipment.