May was Beef Month, a time to celebrate our industry. Although being a beef producer is often not the most glamorous vocation, it does provide us with intangible qualities of life unparalleled by other occupations. The independent spirit and resourceful nature of beef producers are envied by non-cattlemen, not only in the US but around the world. We are gifted with the freedom to choose where we raise cattle, what breeds to cultivate, how to manage those animals and the marketing of our end product. It provides a fulfilling family life with children who grow up strong and driven but possess compassion and generosity. We have the opportunity to combine soil and water to grow forages and grains, creating a product treasured by consumers for being adaptable enough for a quick Monday evening supper or the prized delicacy of the most special holidays and events. The freedom of choosing how we get beef from dirt to the dinner plate is the most unique of all agricultural products since beef is raised in virtually every climate and landscape this great country has to offer, proving the diversity of our management ingenuity.
We have come a long way
Beef Month also serves as a platform to let consumers know about our business. The numerous articles touting the nutritional attributes of beef are everywhere, from the dense nutrient profile it delivers to the healthy options readily available to the most discriminating consumer. However, sometimes we forget to adequately promote the positive environmental impacts and strides we have taken in our production systems. Utilizing the ultimate upcylers of carbon to protein, we are producing roughly the same amount of beef today that we did 50 years ago with half the cattle and 90% of the diet coming from sources that are inedible to humans. The improvements to our resource management have been immense, with the adoption of riparian buffer zones, rotational grazing, water-quality practices and the diverse use of grain byproducts to create a sustainable, efficient production system. As of the last several years, an enhanced focus has been placed on the carbon footprint of beef production. In the US, CO2 emissions are less than half per pound of beef produced than in 1945, compared to the rest of the world, which is still pre-WWII with their production efficiency. We have increased our efficiency while maintaining superior product quality, but there are further avenues we can take to make it better and help our profitability simultaneously.
Sustainable solutions for everyday challenges
Being environmentally minded while current fuel and feed prices are as high as ever can be difficult, but Crystalyx® can help producers economically meet production goals while optimizing on-farm resources. Efficient, self-fed protein and mineral supplementation is a great place to start when we consider that forages make up almost 100% of the diet of a cow-calf operation and Crystalyx Blueprint® supplements can provide solutions to several of these issues.
Delivery of supplemental nutrients can be a costly chore, especially today when a couple of hours in the truck everyday can add up to an extra fill-up or two a week and several hundreds of dollars a month. Crystalyx low-moisture blocks deliver minerals, protein and additives to pasture cattle 24/7 to enhance forage utilization, provide essential nutrients and promote growth with ionophores or fly control. The highly palatable nature of Crystalyx can also serve as an effective way to manage grazing patterns by attracting cattle to remote areas of pasture to promote foraging in acreage that may be typically under-grazed, therefore preventing overgrazing in some areas while more evenly distributing nutrients from manure.
The utilization of BioBarrels® can also take this one step further by providing these same supplements in a container that does not require retrieval, disposal or return. Producers are increasingly adopting BioBarrels due to their convenience but also the positive environmental impact of reducing plastic containers going into landfills or the reconditioning of steel barrels.
The environmental impact of trace mineral supplementation has not always been on the producer’s mind, but lately, the concern of excessive minerals excreted by livestock is rising in some areas. Trace mineral supplementation is key to productive, healthy cattle, but the form of trace minerals determines how much is either absorbed by the animal or how much comes out the other end. Inorganic forms of copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt are poorly absorbed, and most of what we purchase for our stock ends up back on pastures, not inside the cow. Knowing this, we have historically fed excessive levels to get the desired results, which means there is increasingly more going into the environment from the other end. Crystalyx Blueprint supplements take this supplementation route in a new direction — toward efficiency. They contain trace minerals in 100% organic form, meaning they are significantly more bioavailable to the animal, and more is absorbed into the tissues where it can be used instead of being lost. This not only meets the cow’s requirements more effectively, but it allows us to reduce trace mineral concentrations in the supplement and still achieve the correct amount absorbed by the animal. At the end of the day, it means we can supplement at lower levels, get optimal production and create less waste. Essentially, utilizing Blueprint targeted nutrition in a cow herd is the same as using fuel in our vehicle that burns cleaner, gets better mileage, creates more power and emits less. Not to mention the multiple observed improvements in performance and health resulting from this efficiency.
We are fortunate as beef producers to have the opportunity and freedom to create an amazing product for consumers that grows from our natural resources. Beef Month allows us to celebrate our contribution to the world food supply while preserving land, water and air through environmental stewardship. Crystalyx Blueprint supplements can be an excellent tool for continuing that legacy while maintaining profitability as we plan for the future.