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.
The whole concept of using a CRYSTALYX® product with weaned calves is to promote dry matter intake, reduce stress, and ultimately improve immunity, feed efficiency and daily gain. The behavioral aspect on calves is probably just as important as is the nutrition in CRYSTALYX®. Calves can be calmer, and simply start consuming the feed ration (coming to the bunk) sooner.
The history of using CRYSTALYX® in weaning & receiving programs dates to the 1980’s. Back then it was CRYSTALYX®, Beef-Lyx®, which is still used today in some programs but has taken a backseat to Brigade®, the “modern” or more fortified product. Beef-Lyx® covers the basics; being palatable, calves go to barrels to lick vs walking and bawling. Beef-Lyx® can help stimulate appetite and has a decent fortification, especially with respect to vitamin concentration.
Enter the late 1990’s and research conducted in Kentucky with Brigade. We did several trials with a large backgrounding operation and even compared Beef-Lyx® vs Brigade® in performance. We don’t like to compete against ourselves but improved performance parameters were observed when using Brigade® over Beef-Lyx®. Today, Brigade® is our “go to” product in weaning programs. One key difference that Brigade® has over Beef-Lyx® is that it provides BioPlex® organic trace minerals of copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt. These trace minerals are important to immune function, especially with animals under stress like weaned calves. We have written a lot of blogs and done countless producer meetings discussing Brigade®, and the take home message is “don’t wean calves without it.” While Beef-Lyx® may work fine for well managed ranch calves weaned at home with minimal stress, most dealers are going to stock Brigade®. It has a more broad-based fit, and the cost between the two programs is miniscule. So, Brigade® is what normally gets recommended.
More recently we introduced another product to the weaning line up called Battalion® This product is Brigade® with more “punch.” Another fellow blogger and colleague, Teri Walsh, wrote about this product last fall. Battalion® includes Actigen®, designed to promote overall gut health and help improve immune function, and KemTRACE® a Chromium Propionate compound that has been shown to improve feed efficiency and daily gain in feedlot cattle via better energy metabolism. The best time to consider Battalion® would be with high risk calves. Calves such as these may be ones that have been co-mingled from several sources, have had a long truck ride to a feed yard or background facility, or early weaned calves. See my colleague Tim Clark’s blog two weeks ago about early weaning beef calves. Battalion® is also a great fit in natural and antibiotic free programs or simply in a performance driven program.
Which do I use?
If you’ve been using Brigade® with consistent success, you are more than likely on the right track and could continue with that program. As mentioned earlier, this is the “go-to” weaning or receiving product and makes up the highest percentage sold of all three.
Beef-Lyx® is probably fine with home raised calves that have been on creep feed and have a minimal stress weaning program.
Battalion® can be used in early weaning programs or where multiple stressors have been placed on calves just prior to and during weaning. In most cases, you will receive the best value and return on the higher fortified or premium based product, and only about a nickel per calf per day separates Battalion® from the others.
If you’ve never used CRYSTALYX® in a weaning program, we would encourage you to do so. It will normally cost less than $5.00 a calf and returns a lot more. Most of our data has shown that sickness and death loss can be cut by half, and the daily gain advantage alone during the first 30 days post weaning can more than pay for the product; making the health savings a bonus. Even calves that don’t seem like they should get sick will benefit from just a better start on feed.
Go with the brand you know and rely on CRYSTALYX® to help with a successful weaning and receiving program.
KemTrace® is a registered trademark of Kemin AgriFoods