July is a time for many of us to let ruminants be ruminants by allowing our cow herd to graze without poking or prodding and at the same time give us a chance to either catch up on other things or to take a much deserved break, maybe even a vacation. In some regions of the country haying or putting up some sort of winter stored feed supplies. can take up a big part of the summer. While much of the CRYSTALYX® supplementation takes place in the fall and winter season, there are a number of product applications that take us year round.
A growing use of CRYSTALYX® supplementation in the summer is with mineral and vitamin delivery. This is becoming a more widely accepted practice given the highly palatable delivery system that encourages uniform consumption across your cow herd, combined with the controlled consumption of a low-moisture block. Fly control options using Rabon® or Altosid® are available that enable your vitamin mineral supplements to carry out several functions at one time; delivering nutrition and fly control, thus limiting additional supplements or fly treatments you need to apply to your herd. If you’re in an area where the rains have been less than generous, CRYSTALYX® protein products can help increase the energy extracted from lower quality forages and can be critical for meeting cow herd requirements. The delivery of Bovatec® for stockers and replacement heifers is another common use of CRYSTALYX® Iono-Lyx® during the summer months to get the most gain and performance on pastures from growing and developing animals.
As you can see there are many applications for CRYSTALYX® during the summer. As the summer wears on, we also often see persistent high temperatures that can last for weeks or months. When these conditions exist some extra precautions are needed when managing low-moisture block supplements. Because of the physical semi-solid nature of low-moisture block supplements, they have what is referred to as “cold-flow” characteristics. Most people wouldn’t even notice this characteristic when under more ambient temperatures or when high temperatures during the day are followed with cooler temperatures at night. It is only during extremely high temperatures and/or when there is little chance of night cooling where product may become softer than what is normally observed. That is one reason why low-moisture blocks need a ridged container once they are manufactured and that you can never place an object on the surface of a low-moisture block.
Because we are entering this time of the year, I have pulled in a few of our reminders for managing CRYSTALYX® to help avoid any issues when faced with extreme or extended periods of heat. I just want to remind everyone that the “cold flow” nature of CRYSTALYX® helps provide its many attributes that are highly desirable in a supplement delivery. We must also be prepared to manage the products when these more extreme conditions may come into play over the next month or so to make sure we are getting the most from them.
Handling and Storage:
1) Make sure barrels, steel, BioBarrel® or plastic, are stored upright and that nothing is placed directly on the surface of the product.
2) If hot temperatures persist, be sure barrels other than steel are not stacked more than two high in order to limit the weight on the bottom row of containers.
3) Persistent heat will cause LMB product to become more malleable and allow for potential shifting in storage for CRYSTALYX® in plastic barrels and the BioBarrel®.
4) Keep containers out of precipitation (rain) and direct sun light in storage.
5) Monitor stored product daily to look for changes in product or containers that may cause shifting.
6) Pay particular attention to the bottom row of barrels that are placed directly on pallets as shifting can occur due to an uneven pallet surface for BioBarrel® or plastic barrels.
7) Un-stack BioBarrel® and plastic barrels if they are more than two levels high. Placing all containers at ground level is advised when storage conditions permit.
1) Make sure there is plenty of available forage in pastures. Once forage becomes limiting, supplement intake will most often increase.
2) Be sure there are 20 to 30 head per barrel for proper surface area exposure. Fewer animals per container could allow for increased daily intake.
3) Place barrels further away from water or loafing areas once livestock are familiar with the supplement to decrease intake.
4) If possible, position barrels in areas that receive shade during the day.
5) Low-moisture block products will normally soften with high temperatures. Shade will significantly reduce this softening and night cooling will return product to original hardness.
6) Check your livestock frequently during extended periods of heat to make sure they have access to fresh water and CRYSTALYX® supplement programs are delivering expected intakes. Repositioning barrels in the pasture may be needed to help reach desired intake.
7) Common livestock management practices that can lead to higher CRYSTALYX® supplement intake include:
- Limited forage availability and/or a significant reduction in quality.
- Fewer than 20 to 30 head per container where they have access to more supplement surface area.
- Confined situations where cattle are in close proximity to supplement containers for most of the day.
- Placement of CRYSTALYX® barrels in open, unshaded areas near water.
- Allow free-choice supplement access to starved animals that were previously restricted.
CRYSTALYX® products can be successfully fed under a wide range of grazing conditions including summer pastures. Long periods of extended heat has the ability to influence the hardness of the product, however, properly manufactured product can safely and predictably be fed. Drought conditions, modifications in container placement or stocking rates per container are important factors that should be considered when managing a summer LMB supplementation program.