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Block basics: Product selection and usage estimates

In most areas, we are nearing the end of the grazing season and starting to plan for the fall and winter feeding seasons. To adequately prepare, the first question to ask yourself is, “Which products do I need?” This is followed by another important question: “How much product will be used?” CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements have a wide array of formulas to choose from, and at times, the number of options can be confusing. Total usage is a function of intake and animal numbers. In this blog, I will review some basic information about self-fed supplement selection.



Basic product selection comes down to answering the following questions:

What animal group are you supplementing?

Mature cows in good body condition will require a protein supplement to enhance forage digestion, with the protein level of the supplement dependent on forage quality. Intake will often average 0.75 lb./hd/day. For 100 cows, that will be roughly 2,250 pounds per month.

Replacement heifers and growing calves will require a high protein supplement to support their higher growth rates. Intake will vary from 0.50 lb./hd/day for lightweight calves to 0.75 lb./hd/day for yearlings.  For 100 animals, that will be 1,500 to 2,250 pounds per month.

Calves at weaning will benefit from a nutrient-dense supplement, such as Brigade® or Blueprint® Battalion®, to ensure a smooth transition to dry feed.  Average intake is generally 0.25 lb./hd/day, fed for 30-60 days during such times of stress as weaning and the receiving period. For 100 calves, that comes to 750 pounds per month.

What is the forage quality of the forage as related to protein content?

The lower the protein content of the forage, the greater the need for higher protein in the supplement. 

What mineral package is desired?

The majority of CRYSTALYX products do not contain salt, so offering free-choice salt is required. Stress-fighting formulas Brigade and Blueprint Battalion do have salt in the formula to stimulate water and feed intake of calves at weaning and during the receiving period in feedlots. Salt is also added to help maintain electrolyte balance for optimal cellular function as calves adjust to a new diet. The remainder of the CRYSTALYX products fall into the following four categories.

Related article: 10 reasons to use self-fed protein supplements this fall

Economy Line

Trace mineral fortification at 75 percent of NRC beef requirements, allowing flexibility for providing alternative mineral contributions from sources that might already be offered, rather than doubling up. 

Balanced Line

Trace mineral fortification at 100 percent of NRC beef cattle requirement. No additional trace mineral supplementation is needed.

Premium Line

The Premium Line incorporates various technologies — such as Bioplex® organic trace minerals, Bio-Mos® and Actigen® — to support gut health. The Breed-Up® products used prior to calving and through the breeding season are examples of value-added products that have had great success in helping producers improve reproduction.

Blueprint Line

The Blueprint Line is a leading-edge trace mineral supplementation program that utilizes “Total Replacement Technology” and allows for lower total fortification levels of trace minerals because of the form in which they are supplied. All trace mineral fortification with a Blueprint program is provided by Bioplex organic/chelated trace minerals.

The process for selecting the right product for your operation comes down to matching forage quality to the animal group and picking the best mineral package for your cattle’s needs. We have added several new products and product options over the last few years. As such, it can be challenging — not only to producers but, additionally, for our distributors and dealers — to choose the perfect product, as it is not possible or realistic for them to inventory every item. Work with your local CRYSTALYX dealer to make sure you find the right product in a timely manner and determine how much you will need over the feeding period so your nutritional needs will be met.