Several recent blogs have mentioned the fundamental values of CRYSTALYX® supplementation. Topics on the value of getting cattle in better shape for winter, utilizing forages more effectively and efficiently, calf weaning and health, and raising replacement heifers. Supplementation definitely pays, more so now than ever with the value of feeder, fat, and replacement cattle.
I think the key word here is supplement, and the value it brings. The word supplement itself may have a negative connotation or be viewed as a tax we pay for having livestock. Some may think of it this way but if we really want to maximize our returns, we use tools to help us make a dollar go further or to make more dollars. So in essence, a supplement (like CRYSTALYX®) is a tool to make what we have (a feedstuff base) work better.
2013, Almost Opposite of 2012
The above heading is true when comparing several commodity prices this year versus last. This years’ corn crop is estimated by USDA numbers to hit nearly 14 billion bushels, a record. Corn prices and many other commodities have slid south as corn alone is trading at about 40% of where it was a year ago. A lower corn price definitely favors the cattle feeder, the ethanol producer and export demand. Cheaper corn and other commodity ingredients may beg the question of how well CRYSTALYX® will pencil in a year when corn is not $7.00 and hay is not $200 a ton, and when a lot of other supplement programs cost less per ton too.
What’s Really in a Lick of CRYSTALYX®?
Many of us have been trained to evaluate supplement cost on nutritive values alone. This is important but should only be part of the evaluation. For example, if we only evaluate the cost per unit of protein or other nutrient, we can often trick ourselves into using a feedstuff or commodity that really doesn’t fit our management, may lack some other key nutrients, or may wind up costing us more in other areas such as labor or equipment. The concept of estimating supplement value based only on cost of specific nutrient is over recommended.
Let’s take the CRYSTALYX® product BGF-30™ as an example: The 30 stands for the crude protein content. This product may cost 30-40 cents per cow per day to feed in a fall/winter grazing or feeding situation, and for that we get 30% protein but we also get:
- A vitamin and mineral component, one that delivers the maintenance levels in beef cows. Other formulas, such as those in the CRYSTALYX® Breed Up™ product line offer even higher levels. CRYSTALYX®, in many ways, is a complete supplement program. You don’t get this in a pound of soybean meal or distillers grain.
- Self-fed or hands-off feeding that requires minimal equipment and minimal labor. When a commodity is cheap, it often costs as much to feed and store it as it does for the product itself. Not everyone is set up to feed commodities the right way.
- A grazing distribution tool to manage where cattle spend more time grazing by where you place the CRYSTALYX® barrels.
These are just a few of the extra value measures CRYSTALYX® provides beyond the “cost per level of nutrient” evaluation.
CRYSTALYX® This Year vs. Last Year
So corn is off 40% and a lot of feeds cost less, and the cattle market is strong – all good news for the cow-calf producer. Feed supplement demand is down this year in many areas compared to 2012 simply due to better forage, range & pasture conditions. How does CRYSTALYX® compare this year to last from an economic standpoint? CRYSTALYX® still provides all the same benefits (as mentioned above) no matter the year. Its true cost, delivered to the cow is much more stable than many competing supplementation methods. The true cost of CRYSTALYX® supplementation can withstand ingredient price volatility much better than supplements fed at higher levels. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of value in utilizing lower priced commodity ingredients in a lot of rations and these lower prices are definitely welcomed.
The example below is a graph calculated from Crystal Clear Economics®. This is a program we’ve had available for years and I still find it useful in evaluating the true cost of supplementation and to compare CRYSTALYX® to other supplements that have large ups or downs in cost. The message conveyed here is to again illustrate that CRYSTALYX® brings value and fits as competitively in a feed market that is falling (this year) as in a market that is rising (last year).
Cost analysis for 100 cows fed 100 days at varying supplement costs per ton
Example: Green shaded areas illustrate cost per head per day based on price per ton only. Pink shaded areas illustrate an estimated delivery cost for 1.5 hours of labor and equipment use where CRYSTALYX® is fed once per 14 days and other supplements are fed every other day.
Thanksgiving was last week and we do have a much to be thankful for in our business. The cattle market remains strong (20% higher for feeder cattle vs. last November), pasture and forage conditions have improved, and feed cost are generally down. It’s a good time to be in the cattle business and still a good time to incorporate CRYSTALYX® into your supplement program. Learn more about CRYSTALYX® at www.CRYSTALYX.com and download a free copy of Crystal Clear Economics®.