One of the services we provide and encourage our dealer to conduct is a what we call a CRYSTALYX® Feeder Meeting. These feeder meetings are really a service that the dealer provides to their beef, dairy and livestock customers. Often these meetings serve as a customer appreciation dinner, a chance to socialize with other livestock producers with the benefit of possibly learning something. These meetings are a combination of informational presentations about current topics of interest and how the dealer’s products and services can fill a need. The time and effort it takes to organize and conduct these meetings is time well invested. Information is delivered to the producer and dealer staff in a setting that does not interfere with their busy day time work activities. Personally, one benefit of these meetings is the livestock producer that gives me a firm hand shake and a sincere “THANK YOU” for the information after the meeting. I learn more about the real challenges they are facing when we discuss their operation or specific groups of cattle in more detail. We realize there are many information sources that livestock producers can seek out and are honored that many producers find CRYSTALYX® activities as a reliable and trusted source for information.
An Educational Opportunity
A recent week of meetings in South Eastern Iowa and Northern Missouri was quite successful. My best estimate is well over 40,000 beef cattle were represented by the producers attending the 5 CRYSTALYX® Feeder Meetings. We are all busy and making individual farm calls to see that many producers would have taken months. The beef cattle and feed industry is becoming more technical with advancing regulation at both the feed mill and ranch level. Beef cattle nutrition has always been important and now new technologies that support immune function and performance without a reliance on antibiotics have created a new educational need. These new technologies which generate a host of topics, make good material for educational presentations. Below is a list of topics that we have used at recent feeder meetings.
Preparing for the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD)
This topic generated a great deal of interest and discussion. Most producers were getting detailed information for the first time. Interestingly, the local veterinary practice at a couple of meetings had a very limited knowledge of the VFD process and how they were going to manage the program. These feeder meetings helped producers understand what the rules will be and what they need to do in order to be in compliance by the January 1, 2017 start date. Most importantly is the need to have a valid Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship (VCPR). The vet will need to “know” the operation and each state will define what a valid VCPR is for that state. It is encouraging to see producers, the feed industry and the veterinary community working together more closely. We have 10 months to build these relationships.
Non-Antibiotic Feed Alternatives to Enhance Immune Function
This will be a growing area in the future due to the VFD and consumer demand for natural food products. There is a whole host of products that could fall into this category of feed additives. The challenge will be how to efficiently deliver these additives to the target group of animals. The importance of maintaining Gut Health to help prevent pathogens from elevating to disease levels will be an area that should be a focus for improving animal health and well-being. Rumen health and rumen fiber digestibility is a fruitful area of discussion where producers learn about opportunities for improving ways of extracting more from their forages.
Increased Importance of Plane of Nutrition and Trace Mineral Status
For optimum reproductive performance the plane of nutrition of the cow has been and will continue to be a topic to discuss. The need to explain differences in supplement options is part of the education opportunity. Trace mineral status and bio-availability of mineral sources has gained significance for supporting immune function. For the typical person a discussion of how many milligrams of selenium, copper or other trace minerals is needed can get confusing. Our challenge to better explain nutritionally technical subjects so they are more easily understood will be ever increasing.
CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements has a focus on research to support the products offered. If you get a Feeder Meeting invitation from your local CRYSTALYX® dealer, I encourage you to attend. The meetings provide a chance to catch up with your neighbors while learning about some important topics that can help you better manage your beef operation. January 1, 2017 when the VFD is in full affect is not that far way and is just one of the many topics that are covered at these feeder meetings. Visit with your CRYSTALYX® dealer and see what feeder meeting educational opportunities they have.