At CRYSTALYX®, most of our attention centers around beef cattle production — and for good reason. The majority of CRYSTALYX being supplemented, from a volume standpoint, is for beef cattle. We do, however, have excellent programs and products designed for dairy cattle, sheep, goats and equine, as well. This blog will discuss our latest Blueprint® nutrition program developed for sheep: our CRYSTALYX® Blueprint® Sheep Mineral product (product no. 66363)
Mineral nutrition and the importance of certain nutrients are not much different for sheep than for cattle and other livestock species. Trace minerals such as zinc, manganese and cobalt all play a role in metabolic functions and affect many reproductive characteristics. Energy needs at many stages of production throughout the year are critically important, and an adequate mineral and vitamin status in sheep will support their overall energy metabolism. The CRYSTALYX Blueprint Sheep Mineral supplement was developed with consideration to improving breeding, health and supplement management.
Our sheep customers have come to appreciate the performance benefits they have seen with CRYSTALYX® Sheep-lyx™, an excellent program that has been improved upon in the last few years. It offers a portion of the trace minerals from Bioplex® organic trace minerals and includes Bio-Mos® 2 as a standard additive in the formula. Sheep-lyx contains 16% protein and works very well in moderate to low-quality forage programs and in pre- and post-lambing situations as a boost of energy and overall vitamin and mineral nutrition. A blog Jill Peine wrote in September of 2019 goes more in-depth on this subject. Even though Sheep-lyx works great, the supplemental protein it provides may not be necessary with good-quality spring and summer pastures. In this case, a true mineral product offered in the CRYSTALYX form makes a lot of sense.
After seeing so many positive outcomes with our Blueprint nutrition program in beef cattle, we believed that the program could provide the same benefits in sheep production. Many sheep breeding programs typically start in mid- to late summer and run through the entire fall, which means that mineral and vitamin nutrition are often more important than supplementing protein. Another benefit provided by CRYSTALYX mineral products is that intakes are typically lower than they would be with products that provide supplemental protein. As a result, the cost per head per day is more economical while still providing effective nutrition. The CRYSTALYX Blueprint Sheep Mineral provides calcium and phosphorous in a 1:1 ratio, and 100% of the trace minerals are provided as Bioplex organic trace minerals. The mineral also provides Bio-Mos 2 at the recommended level for sheep (0.6 grams per head) in a 2-ounce intake.
In the summer of 2019, we conducted several feeding demonstrations in four states, from Wyoming to Minnesota, with this new product. These demonstrations took place in various landscapes with a variety of flock sizes, management strategies and breeds. Our goal was to be confident in the consumption levels of this new supplement, as the CRYSTALYX Blueprint mineral is formulated for 2 ounces per head daily. Upon the conclusion of the demonstrations, we were satisfied with the consumption levels identified and learned a lot about managing consumption based on flock size, the number of containers to offer and more. Most farms stayed on the product for an extended period and kept production records during breeding and lambing. The results reported back by the customers were excellent and included improved breeding percentages and twinning, or multiple birth percentages, along with better lamb health and vigor, ewe body condition and overall flock production.
Just like the success we’ve seen in many beef cattle operations, the success of this program with sheep may be difficult to explain. While the change in mineral supplementation with Blueprint nutrition programs seems small, the impact of improved mineral status on metabolic processes involving reproduction, growth and even forage digestibility can be quite large. The cumulative impact of these positive effects may very well manifest in several areas of production efficiency.
So, where and when do we start with CRYSTALYX Blueprint Sheep Mineral?
Every program is different, but if your lambing season falls anytime between December and May, using the CRYSTALYX Blueprint Mineral supplement 30 to 60 days prior to breeding and continuing through the lambing season is an acceptable program. During the lambing season, or if forage quality dictates feeding supplemental protein, Sheep-lyx can be used very successfully.
CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements’ nutrition programs take mineral nutrition very seriously, whether they be for beef cattle or other species. Our sheep supplements have been received well over the years and have also experienced an increase in use. Customer results such as those included above have led to more confidence in these products — and more word of mouth among producers and those marketing the product. CRYSTALYX sheep products work well no matter whether you have a large commercial sheep operation, a smaller farm flock or raise show animals. Go with the brand you know!