It’s no secret this fall is a different fall than the past two or three regarding the cattle market. The pressure is on to scrutinize cost, not just feed, but all costs. My neighbor brought some cows to our place for fall pasture this past weekend and commented that, “not many new pickups will be sold this fall.”
CRYSTALYX®, like any feedstuff or supplement, will not be immune from cost scrutiny this year. It never really is or should be taken for granted. So, with this in mind, I wanted to list some features that CRYSTALYX® brings to the table that make it very economical. CRYSTALYX® can help cancel or reduce other costs, or add value to a supplement program. Many of these attributes and applications have been discussed in previous blogs a greater extent. Still, it’s important to consider all of these as evaluating CRYSTALYX® based on cost per nutrient alone, is not an accurate nor fair assessment. With CRYSTALYX® you are purchasing a lot more than just a nutrient.
1. Feature: Continuous nutrient delivery
Benefit: Access to all animals assuring more consistent intake across the entire herd, and spreading true cost across all animals.
It may be hard to quantitatively measure this in a cow herd but CRYSTALYX® is available around the clock to your herd. Numerous research trials conducted at Montana State University reported that cows fitted with GPS tracking collars made more visits to, and spent more time at CRYSTALYX® versus other forms of supplement (hand fed cake, loose dry mineral, salt, and liquid). In one study, only about 55% of the herd was consuming a dry mineral (45% weren’t consuming any mineral) while grazing but 95% of the herd was consuming CRYSTALYX®. If an average cost of mineral in your herd is roughly 10 cents per cow per day, and if just over ½ the cattle are consuming it, then that ½ is really consuming 20 cents worth of mineral while the other half gets none. The main benefit here is that all animals have access to supplement, not just the boss cows.
Another overlooked value here is that if you are delivering a specific additive such as Bovatec® in CRYSTALYX® Iono-lyx®, the performance of that additive will undoubtedly be better when consumed consistently and by the entire herd. Some field work done several years ago in Virginia, with Iono-lyx® showed better performance with yearlings consuming Iono-lyx® versus another group being fed a Bovatec® mineral. There was nothing wrong with the dry mineral, but perhaps the cattle on Iono-lyx® were being offered a more consistent dose of supplement.
2. Feature: Minimal labor and equipment
Benefit: Significant reduction in the delivery cost of supplement
Nutritionally there’s nothing wrong with hand fed supplements, commodities or even alfalfa hay being fed as a protein supplement; however, it can cost as much to feed, store, and process these supplements as it does to purchase them on a per head per day basis. CRYSTALYX® has had an excel spreadsheet program available for many years called: Crystal-Clear Economics, and it does a nice job of quantifying delivery costs.
Equipment cost a lot of money and while fuel is more reasonable than in past years, it’s still a cost. I can appreciate my neighbor’s comments on this one. CRYSTALYX® will usually have a 10-15 cent or more per head per day advantage over other supplements when comparing delivery costs.
3. Feature: Complete Fortification
Benefit: The Convenience of having all your supplement (except salt) in one package
This gets back to evaluating CRYSTALYX® on a cost per unit of nutrient. Often times commodity ingredients such as distiller’s grains are fed as a protein or energy supplement, and will likely pencil more economically when compared to CRYSTALYX®. Commodities however are ingredients, and do not come with a balanced mineral and vitamin program. CRYSTALYX® is available with products lines providing 75%, 100%, or 200% of the recommended levels of trace minerals and vitamins. This is about an 8-12 cent value per head daily that often times gets overlooked.
4. Feature: Improved Grazing distribution
Benefit: More days to graze and better pasture management.
Strategically placing CRYSTALYX® in areas of the pasture where you want cattle to spend more time grazing, or to keep them from spending time in other areas, makes it a great management tool. Research done in the past with CRYSTALYX® regarding grazing distribution led to several grazing patents. Better pasture management saves money by allowing more days to graze which can be translated to less days feeding hay or maintaining a stocking rate during dry years. CRYSTALYX® being fed on pasture, especially late season or dry pastures, typically costs around $0.35 per head day; more or less. If this strategy gave you two more weeks grazing in a season, it costs about $5.00 per cow. Consider what it would cost to feed a cow for two weeks and therein lies the real economic benefit of improved grazing distribution.
It’s now nearly mid-October; my favorite time of year. College football, harvest season, hunting, and cooler weather with fewer bugs are all great. It’s also the time of year that many of us in the beef business are gearing up for winter feeding and marketing calves. Fall also means that my colleagues and I attend and present CRYSTALYX® information at many producer meetings. This year we’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing the benefits of CRYSTALYX® just as listed above. The value of CRYSTALYX® goes way beyond just the price per barrel and cost per head per day. Consider all of the values that come with a barrel of CRYSTALYX®. It is a supplement program, not just nutrients.