On the Blog

How new technologies may better explain what we do and don’t know

About Improving Nutritional Efficiencies of the Beef Cow Herd

I started this Block Blog with the intention of explaining how rumen forge digestion is improved by feeding a CRYSTALYX® Self Fed Low Moisture Block supplement but the topic changed to looking at how technological changes will impact our industry.  Ridley Block Operations, manufacturer of CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements, has and will continue to have, a focus on research and developing products and programs that increase profitability of livestock producers. 

A common question I get asked about CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements is, “How can such a small amount of a protein block do so much?”  It is a fair question when you consider the feed efficiency and NDF digestibility improvement from as little as 0.50 to 0.75 lb. of CRYSTALYX®.    Past blogs have talked about positive associative effects of protein and negative associative effects of starch on fiber digestion to explain these improvements. The true energy content of forages depends how well they are digested and on what end products result from rumen fermentation.  Improving our understanding of rumen function and the impact that plane of nutrition has in beef cattle are exciting areas where technological advancements will play an increasing role.     

Rumen Digestion is Dynamic and NOT Completely Understood.

New technologies will help explain why and how something works.  Some of these tools will better quantify metabolism and other biological processes we already know or don’t know.  As in the past, technology will help the industry to continue to be more efficient.  The rate at which new technologies come available has increased.  The negative associative impact of feeding excess starch is related to rumen pH and the impact of pH on rumen microflora.   The technology to measure rumen pH in real time via wireless means is being developed.  There are indirect measurements of rumen function such as rumination, rumen motility and chewing activity that will allow us to better understand how feed stuffs and additives impact rumen function.  Currently, we can only guess based on past research for cows fed similarly what is happening to pH in the rumens of your cows when fed a slug of grain.

The Technology of Cow Burps and Cow Farts

Methane and carbon dioxide currently get a great deal of attention from the global warming crowd, but monitoring these two gases also represents a new frontier on improving rumen efficiency.  In the past, expensive and restrictive metabolism chambers were required to study these gases in cattle nutrition.  Today, technologies exist and are being improved that can monitor changes in the production of these gases in a less restrictive, more commercial type setting.   Part of the beef consuming public will appreciate our industry using technologies that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  I realize this is messaging but our soap box speech of improving production efficiency and providing affordable food and fiber is not well received by a growing portion of the consuming public.

Fetal Programing and Gene Regulation

It once took generations to retrospectively estimate how nutrtion of the fetus or young animal impacted productive performance later in life.  The positive impact of protein status of the dam on preformance of the fetus has been documented through several multi year studies.  Does the timing and extent of trace mineral and vitamin supplementation impact performance later in life?  The genome of cattle has been sequenced and our understanding of up regulating and down regulating genes is in it’s adolesence.  I can only image what we will be able to accurately predict in the future using genomic technology. 

A benefit of record profitability for the cow calf producer we are currently experiencing is the shift from being focused on low cost production to an interest and need to be innovative.  Innovative producers and companies will utilize new technology to improve production and profitability.  CRYSTALYX® has a full line of research proven products and we will continue to invest in technology in our research, products and development of tools such as the Body Condition App and LICS App to help you meet your production goals and produce profitable economic returns.