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Brigade: It doesn't cost enough and it's too easy

How much, and how easy?

A customer very familiar with how well CRYSTALYX® Brigade® works on stressed calves at weaning time, once told me, “There are only two things wrong with Brigade®, it doesn’t cost enough, and it is too easy.”  While that is humorous, there is a lot of truth in that statement.  Brigade® will cost about 14 cents per head per day.  In a typical 28 day receiving period, that is about $4 per head.  How easy is it?  All you have to do is put Brigade® barrels in your receiving pens.  One barrel for every 30 head should work about right.  You can adjust this some to dial in your intake to about ¼ lb/hd/d.  Place the barrels just behind the feed bunk, 40 feet or so, and around the edges of the pen, just inside the fence, so calves will run into them when they walk the fence.  That is about all the harder it is.  It is a good idea to check them occasionally to make sure they are free of manure.

What can we do to ensure more profit on weaned calves?

Many of you are nearing weaning time, and preconditioning your calves generally brings a better price at the sale ban than calves just off the cow.  This can be an option to regain profit as cow-calf profitability declines with the cattle cycle.  Using CRYSTALYX® Brigade® in your weaning pens makes “cents”.  We know this from trials (data below), demonstrations and customer testimonials.  If you wean 300 calves and you use Brigade® for the first 28 days of weaning, and it saves you just one calf, you have about broke even.  More than likely, you may have saved 2 or 3 calves, which would double your investment in a month, just on lowering mortality.  When you look at the impact of Brigade® across the entire 300 calves, you should also see fewer calves to treat, increased average daily gain, increased feed intake, and better feed efficiency.  Getting your calves on feed sooner will add significantly to the return on your investment, even when calves are under $2 a pound.

Scrutinizing an investment

As profitability in the cow-calf sector declines, it is only human nature to make changes in purchasing decisions.  The purchase of supplements, equipment and genetics will all be re-evaluated again this year.  Unfortunately, some of these decisions would be more akin to gambling on an outcome, versus scrutinizing an investment.  I’m not here to argue that you should not put off the purchase of a new tractor or baler until next year.  But, I would point out that your herd’s requirement for nutrition does not change with the calf market.  It will however, change with the level of stress they are subjected to, like the weather at weaning, and the disease challenges they will face this year.  Can anyone predict that?  Nutritional deficiencies and sickness will make your herd even less efficient at converting your forages and other feeds into saleable pounds, regardless of the calf sale price.  The magnitude of returns on a supplement will certainly change with calf prices. But even with $160/CWT calves, there is still profitability in the cow-calf business. 

Hedge your calves with Brigade® 

Cattlemen, Farmers and Ranchers are some of the biggest gamblers in the country.  I do not believe that is necessarily by choice.  Hedging commodities can often be used to remove some of that risk.  Brigade® is like a hedge on sick calves.  We know that Brigade® works when calves get sick, and its return is proportional to how sick the calves get.  Many times the weather is a contributing factor for sick calves at weaning time.  “If” you feel you can wean calves without any stress or sickness, you may not need Brigade®.  But why gamble, hedge your calves with Brigade®