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The Heat of the Summer is Upon Us

July is here, and with it, some of the hottest days of the summer are just ahead of us.  Self-fed intake of CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements can be higher in the summer/warmer months. During the manufacturing process, CRYSTALYX® is packaged in to barrels at a temperature of approximately 150 to 175 degrees. At this temperature, CRYSTALYX® is very pliable, much like Play Doh® or thick cookie dough.  As it cools, it becomes hard.  Hardness is a primary factor in determining the self-fed intake of CRYSTALYX®. As you would expect, if CRYSTALYX® warms back up towards that 150 degree temperature, it will become softer again.  That is just the nature of a Low-Moisture Block. 

Just how warm can CRYSTALYX® get on a summer day? Our research has shown that CRYSTALYX® in direct sunlight, can be as much as 20 degrees warmer than ambient temperature. If it is 100 degrees in the shade, a barrel of CRYSTALYX® in the sunshine will likely be 120 degrees. Again, as we approach that 150 degree mark, CRYSTALYX® will be softer at increasing temperatures. This will often times allow self-fed intakes to increase.

How can we help manage the feeding of CRYSTALYX® in these high temps? 

  1. If possible, it is a good idea to feed CRYSTALYX® in the shade in the Summer/warmer months. 
  2. Moving CRYSTALYX® farther form watering locations will also help control intake. 
  3. As always, adequate forage availability is a must, to control the intake of any self-fed supplement.
  4. Most CRYSTALYX® supplements do not contain added salt.  Salt should be fed free-choice with CRYSTALYX® supplements that do not contain salt, in order to attain satisfactory intake of CRYSTALYX®.  

Additionally, with any group of animals consuming self-fed supplements in the summer (or winter), you will see the factors below affect self-fed intake. They are much more critical in the summer. 

  • If you stock 20 animals per container, you will have a relatively higher intake per animal than if you stock 30 animals per container. 
  • Animal nutrient requirements change with their stage of production.  As nutrient requirements go up, animals will try to increase consumption of all self-fed feedstuffs (supplements, forages & grains).
  • Product formulations containing significant levels of magnesium, calcium or phosphorus often result in lower intakes compared to formulations with lower levels of those minerals.
  • Larger animals will typically have higher intakes and smaller, or younger animals will nearly always have lower intakes. 
  • The presence of other supplements in pastures at the same time will generally result in lower CRYSTALYX® consumption.
  • Animals that have not been on a mineral or protein supplement may consume up to twice the normal amount of supplement for a 7 to 10 day introductory period.
  • As mentioned above, if forage becomes less available, intake will increase accordingly.
  • Location of supplements in relation to water, shade, wind and loafing areas can either increase or decrease consumption depending upon environmental conditions and the time animals spend near the supplement.  Use this to your advantage in the Summer.

The heat of the summer does bring additional challenges to maintaining satisfactory self-fed intake of CRYSTALYX®. Being aware of the factors above will help you achieve your goal.