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What does biodegradable or ACE have to do with beef cow supplements?

About two years ago, I wrote a blog that focused on how CRYSTALYX® low-moisture block supplements interacted with the environment around them.  We have always been aware that whether it is more of a confined feeding situation or pasture type environment, respecting the landscape and surrounding resources where cattle are raised is important for future sustainability.  Delivering supplemental nutrition to a cow herd may be thought of as a type of an “outside” input, or possibly as a less than natural input especially on pasture, since it is coming from an introduced source to help improve production efficiencies.  So how can we provide supplemental nutrition with an appropriate delivery method that minimizes any impact on the environment while preserving great health and optimizing animal performance? 

As an organization we subscribe to the ACE principle.  This means that our products and programs whenever possible, are designed to meet the needs of the Animal, Consumer and the Environment.  In many cases we are more than a few steps away from the Consumer, so I also interchange the “C” for Customer to make sure we never lose sight of their importance in the food chain as livestock move through their hands to the consumer. When we look at developing new CRYSTALYX® products it is important that they align with the ACE principle.  We want to make sure that what we represent will be beneficial at every step along the food chain and that CRYSTALYX® products and services enhance utilization of our resources in a sustainable manner. 

Let me point out a few examples of what I mean.


First of all self-fed delivery of CRYSTALYX® products allow for supplemental nutrients to be available 24-7 for all animals within the herd, regardless of social dominance.  These palatable molasses based supplements have demonstrated that more animals consistently visit the supplements when compared to other delivery forms, thereby ensuring more cattle receive the nutrients they need.  Our research has convincingly shown this advantage in both extensive grazing conditions as well as smaller pastures.  By placing CRYSTALYX® barrels out in the pasture every 10 to 14 days, you can minimize grazing interruptions and feeding stations that are associated with hand-fed supplements.  At the same time, barrels are portable enough that they can more frequently move cattle in areas of the pasture, that by design, you want to increase grazing intensity to better manage your forage resource.  More stationary liquid feeders are not as portable and the feeding station becomes more permanent along with animal grazing patterns. 


CRYSTALYX® has a strong advantage in saving labor, time, equipment and waste when compared to other types of supplements.  Any one or several of these can be very important to our customers depending upon their management situation.  Many CRYSTALYX® products now include Alltech technologies such as Sel-Plex® selenium yeast, BioPlex® organic/chelated trace minerals as well as Bio-Mos® and Actigen® natural gut health additives.  These have greatly added to our ability to help ensure animal health and performance to meet both customers and consumer needs.


What about the environment?  This has actually been a strength of CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplement delivery before saving the environment was considered “cool”.  CRYSTALYX® was introduced in a ½ steel barrel where producers could return the barrels for credit.  This not only has helped reduce packaging/container costs associated with the supplementation, but it also provided a good incentive to remove the containers from pastures and the environment when compared to those using plastic tub options of other block supplements.  In 2006 CRYSTALYX® provided a new option of container that has virtually eliminated any impact on the environment with a biodegradable container called the BioBarrel®.  This fiber-based container basically disappears as cattle consume the supplement, thereby eliminating the need to go back and deal with any empty containers.  It simply degrades in the environment.  Feed it and Forget it!

You can see how Biodegradable and the ACE principle fit into beef cow supplementation practices.  Features of CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements along with the BioBarrel® can help you with managing your beef herd’s nutrition program while at the same time being a good steward of the environment.  If you have not considered using CRYSTALYX® in the BioBarrel® I encourage you to give it a try.  The BioBarrel® now features WeatherAll® technology with problem-free weatherability in all types of environments.