Beginning this week in August, you will notice that we have changed the formulation of the “HE” CRYSTALYX® products. These were some of the oldest CRYSTALYX® products in existence. The “HE” in their name used to stand for “High Energy”. I say “used to”, because since I got involved with formulating the CRYSTALYX® products over 19 years ago, I also got involved with the marketing of them. I noticed that most every promotional flier we had on CRYSTALYX® products at the time, usually listed “high energy” as the first bullet point. Having access to the energy values of the various formulas, I could quickly see that the energy contained in ¾ pound of CRYSTALYX® was approximately the same as ¾ pound of corn. Now I agree that corn is relatively high in energy compared to straw, but I would struggle to promote CRYSTALYX® as high in energy, given that you could get the same amount of energy in ¾ pound of corn for much less money. We began having the “High Energy” bullet points removed from our advertising materials, and I slept better at night.
Now, for the rest of the story: The real way that CRYSTALYX® does increase energy delivery to your cattle, and it can be very impacting, is through supplemental protein increasing digestion of lower quality forages. Increasing forage digestion by 10% is a far bigger energy contributor than ¾ pound of a supplement with the energy value approximately equal to corn. This relationship could make for a separate blog.
So, now we come to the real example I want to deliver in this Blog. Part of our reformulation of the HE products was to reduce the fat level in the blocks from 5% to 3%. What is the difference between a block with 5% fat and one with 3% fat? The short answer is about 72 kernels of corn. Not a whole lot to be concerned about from my point of view, but a change of “2% fat”, seems to have a perceived value much greater than that. Here is how we get to the 72 kernels of corn. Most CRYSTALYX® protein products have a typical intake of about ¾ pound/hd/d. That is 340 grams/hd/d. If we then change a nutrient by 2%, that equates to 6.8 grams/hd/d. I remember from hybrid seed corn bags that there are about 80,000 kernels in a 50 pound bag (1,600 kernels per pound). So, 6.8 grams would equal about 24 kernels of corn. Fat has around 3 times as much energy as corn, so, we are now at 72 kernels of corn being the difference between a CRYSTALYX® product with 5% fat versus one with 3% fat. This is roughly 0.2% of the daily energy needed by a cow.
I think you can now see that we should spend more time considering the protein level we are supplementing, that can make a 10% difference in available energy to the cow, versus a 2% difference in fat content of a supplement that comprises only 3% of the cow’s diet, which nets only 0.2% of the daily energy needed by a cow.
CRYSTALYX® Brand protein supplements are an excellent way to maximize your returns on low quality forages. They are available 24/7, and they minimize your investment in time, labor and equipment. And they are extremely efficient in allowing ruminant animals to get their energy from the forages that cattle, sheep and goats were designed to consume and ferment.