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Does CRYSTALYX® pencil out for reproductive efficiency?

How do you define reproductive efficiency? I think you could get a lot of different answers to this question, correct or not. Reproductive efficiency is the main profit driver in a beef cow herd. Not much profit is attained without some high degree of reproductive efficiency. Feeding CRYSTALYX® can have a positive effect on reproductive efficiency, adding yet another economic reason why CRYSTALYX pencils out.

Understanding reproductive efficiency takes a deeper dive into a lot of parameters that can be measured and improved upon with good nutrition, management and genetics. Below are just a few production parameters that can be used in the definition. Also included are some estimated dollar values associated with these parameters that we really need to appreciate. 

Calving distribution

  • Every calf born in the first cycle of the calving season will have a 40-lb. advantage at weaning over a calf born in the second cycle. Today, that difference is well over $80 per calf. Sound nutrition will improve body condition and help tighten the calving interval.

Weaning rate

  • Well-managed herds with healthier cows and calves have lower calf mortality. Even small improvements make a large difference: improving this parameter by just two percent equals two calves per 100 cows, with a combined value of over $2,000.

Cull rates and cow depreciation

  • After feed costs, this can be the second- or third-highest cost variable in a cow-calf operation. With today’s high cost of bred replacement females — which can approach or exceed $3,000/hd — the depreciation cost of the animal not rebreeding can be 50% or more.

The chart below is one I’ve used in several CRYSTALYX presentations lately. It illustrates the return per cow between three scenarios: no supplementation, average supplementation, or supplementation with a premium (Blueprint®) program. The numbers in the premium, or Blueprint, product section can be backed up by our own multi-year research on several large ranches with well-managed herds; the values in the “do nothing” and average categories were adapted from an extension article I read during the summer of 2022.

In this scenario, it’s obvious that a “do nothing” program returns little in economic performance. What’s important to note is that upgrading your supplementation program from average to a performance-based program like Blueprint is not a large investment but realizes a much greater economic return.


*Individual results may vary

A penny saved is not necessarily a penny earned

In the past couple of years, we have seen farm and ranch input costs increase dramatically. Cash flow and purchasing power has obviously been impacted, and this has made for some hard decisions about how much money to spend (or not) on supplementation.

I have been recommending CRYSTALYX to customers for over 25 years. Back when the cost of a CRYSTALYX barrel was half of what it is today, and when calves were half the value they are today, people complained about the cost then too! Even with higher input costs today, the value and return of CRYSTALYX is higher simply because cattle are worth more money. If you look at the table above and work the numbers with 25% less cash cost per cow — using what calf prices were just one year ago — the returns per cow then were actually lower than they are today with a higher calf market.

Yes, CRYSTALYX pencils out for reproductive efficiency

It is in our nature to be frugal, but with what we demand from cattle performance today, nutrition that works efficiently is not a corner that can be cut too much. This happened a lot in the tough winter of 2022–2023, and we are now hearing about more sick and weak calves, thin cows, etc. This may translate into some impaired breeding and weaning performance throughout the year. How unfortunate when we are seeing near-record prices for calves! How expensive is it to have fewer and lighter calves at these prices? The cost of not supplementing CRYSTALYX is going to be a lot more expensive than the increase in its cost over the past couple of years. In fact, the cost outlay of CRYSTALYX on a per cow, per season basis is only about $10–15 more than it was a few years ago. In the 100-cow scenario, getting one more calf to market pays for this. 

In my opinion, getting more cows bred — and bred early in the breeding season — and getting more and heavier calves to market defines reproductive efficiency. Use CRYSTALYX to help you achieve this, and you’ll see it does pencil out.