As feed professionals and nutritionist, we often look at CRYSTALYX® supplementation to improve forage utilization, provide key nutrients, deliver additives like fly control compounds, or apply a strategy targeted at specific performance parameters (weaning or breeding). One other very valuable tool CRYSTALYX® provides, and has been researched extensively, is that of Grazing Distribution.
In the past 20 years or more, CRYSTALYX® has been involved in over a dozen research studies, published data in scientific journals, and been awarded several patents for the applications of low moisture blocks improving grazing management. Good grazing management can lead to higher forage yields per acre, increased stocking rate per acre and/or allowing for more days cattle can graze a given pasture. There are also benefits to wildlife by improving habitat and in weed and brush control.
Graze where the grass is and cattle aren’t, and for a longer length of time.
Improved grazing distribution is all about controlling where cattle graze and spend their time. In rough terrain or areas far from water, grazing activity may be lite or non-existent. Developing fencing and water systems is a management option but may not be economically feasible or practical. Much of our past research has shown that by strategic placement of CRYSTALYX® in these areas, we can increase the grazing activity and grass harvested by 15% or more. CRYSTALYX® is also much more effective in luring cattle to these areas than salt or mineral.
How valuable is 15%?
Fifteen percent doesn’t sound like a large number but when factored into a grazing plan and economic analysis, it’s a big number. For example, let’s look at a scenario with a pasture where there’s an area(s) where cattle just don’t normally graze due to terrain, water location, etc., and assume that area produces approx. 1500 lbs. of forage per acre. If we can improve the grazing distribution and forage harvested in that area by 15%, we’ve harvested an additional 225 lbs. of forage per acre. This is enough grass to feed a cow for about a week. Start multiplying these numbers across total acres and total animals and you have increased the number of days you can graze a given pasture by a couple weeks or so. In the scenario above, if hay is worth $80 per ton, 225 lbs. of forage equals about $9; at $100 per ton the value is over $11.00.
Again, the real value is in having your cows graze a pasture longer, more effectively and reducing your overall feed cost. It is normally much more economical to let the cow graze forage vs having to feed forage in the form of hay, or go rent more grass. In dry years, the above strategy is critical in controlling cost.
Weed and brush control too?
While not many of our studies have substantiated the effectiveness of using CRYSTALYX® supplementation to control weeds or brush, the concept would potentially make sense. I’ve seen a lot of anecdotal evidence as well. Many producers have told me that they’ve used CRYSTALYX® in areas where they want to “target” graze. By placing supplement in a patch of brush, there is a trampling effect accomplished or cattle may spend some time foraging on the brush. The result is extra pressure or stress is applied to the brush patch, allowing less competition for more desired grass species. This application may be a good alternative to chemical treatment of brush or weeds where it’s not practical or simply not preferred.
Note in the first photo the electric fence being overgrown with brush. In the second photo, a small cedar tree is being damaged by traffic around a CRYSTALYX® barrel.
As beef producers, grass is really what we grow and cattle harvest the crop. We must have grass before we can have cows. How we manage the grass impacts the performance of our cattle. CRYSTALYX® is a foraging enhancing supplement, whether that forage be in a haystack or still standing in the field. Improve all aspects of your forage and grazing programs by putting CRYSTALYX® to work.