This may show that I watch a little too much reality TV, or, as a Friend calls it, “Far from reality TV”, but, I many times hear the phrase “this is a game changer”. People mining for gold in Alaska, may bring some new equipment or technology into play, and they proudly state, “This, is a game changer”, hoping to strike it rich.
In the beef production industry, we have many potential game changing decisions every year. While we also have many decisions that are much less impacting to the bottom line, the game changers should be made with good research or information, and an analysis of the cost/benefit relationship. Sometimes the smaller ones take entirely too much of our time, for no more impact than they have. Choosing your genetics, calving dates, and when and how you sell your calves, all fall into the game changer category. You make those decisions a couple times a year, and then you live with it. Your herd nutrition program can certainly be a game changer. You are probably making nutrition decisions every month, and those decisions impact your herd with every bite they take, every day.
When it comes to nutrition, here are just some of the game changers you should consider:
- Are you using a supplement when nutrients are deficient in the animal’s diet? It is nearly impossible for nature to provide 100% of the needed nutrients to your herd, in any given month of the year. Many of these deficiencies are very easy to correct with a self-fed supplement, often times for just nickels and dimes a day.
- Will you include a source of organic trace minerals in the supplement? If you have antagonists (like iron, molybdenum or sulfates) in your soil or water, organic sources of trace minerals may be necessary to get proper absorption of the needed quantities of trace minerals. Much of today’s highly selected genetics will not express their full genetic potential, unless you provide a Premium level of nutrition.
- Will you take steps to control flies in your herd this summer? Calves will probably be worth somewhere around $2.50 a pound this fall. Flies could rob you of $25 to $50 worth of weaning weight. Flies can reduce weight gain in yearlings by as much as 50 pounds, and that could be close to $100 per animal. Adding fly control to your mineral program will probably cost less than $5 per animal for the summer. One last thought on fly control options, if you had trouble with pinkeye last year, you may want to consider a fly control option, such as Rabon®, that will target face flies in addition to just horn flies.
- We are at that time of the year where a deficiency of available magnesium in some lush spring forages will cause cows to die from grass tetany. Remember that a cow’s magnesium requirement will essentially double once she calves and begins lactating. Your better milking cows will be more at risk than those with lower milk production. Cattle cannot store magnesium, so you need to take steps to ensure a daily supply of magnesium, when grass tetany is a concern.
Items #1, #2 and #3 are additive over time, and will hit your bottom line on sale day. Item #4 will result in dead cows and requires immediate attention. Providing a self-fed supplement with extra magnesium is an easy precaution, if you have had trouble with grass tetany in the past. Magnesium oxide is unpalatable, and molasses based supplements make a great carrier to get that needed magnesium oxide into your herd.
CRYSTALYX® Brand supplements are an excellent way to provide consistent controlled intake of magnesium and other necessary nutrients that can be unpalatable. CRYSTALYX® self-fed supplements, are available to your herd 24/7, and they minimize your investment in time, labor and equipment. Including CRYSTALYX® in your nutrition program is one of the easiest ways you can tilt the beef production game in your favor.