On the Blog

Performance is served: Why there’s no better barrel

At CRYSTALYX®, we are excited to be launching a new campaign, “Performance is Served.” This campaign describes not only our CRYSTALYX brand but also the positive results customers can expect — and here’s why:

Performance in the manufacturing process

When we think about performance, what often comes to mind is high quality. Quality has always been a top priority in our CRYSTALYX products and will continue to be.

Beginning with the manufacturing process at the plant, we first and foremost use high-quality ingredients and a manufacturing system that produces a product that is the most consistent and beneficial for our customers. While CRYSTALYX contains a lot of molasses to make it the palatable product that it is, molasses can come in different levels of moisture depending on the time of year, the load of molasses or other factors. The percentage of moisture is important to keep in mind during what is called the cooking process. In order to get a hard, consistent product that helps control consumption, there needs to be very little moisture at all once the molasses is cooked. Our experienced cookers at the plant know just where that fine line is for cooking off the moisture but not over-cooking the molasses. Cooking the molasses releases the moisture, and if the molasses that comes in has more moisture or less, it can be controlled through what is known as the batch process. Once all of the moisture is removed, the minerals, vitamins, protein and other additives are added to the cooked, taffy-like molasses and weighed into the barrel. While installing this batch system for manufacturing is expensive compared to other systems, it greatly benefits the customer by resulting in a high-quality, consistent product.

Our high-quality ingredients are not the only aspect leading to better performance — so are the added technologies available in many of our product line-ups. Whether it is Bioplex® organic trace minerals, added Bio-Mos® 2 or FEB-200™, added technologies included at the recommended rates will help drive performance in a variety of situations.

I mentioned that our cookers in the plant have many years of experience doing what they do, but I also believe that the high-quality, performance-enhancing products CRYSTALYX brings to the animal nutrition table are also made possible through the many years of experience amassed by members of our organization. We have a great team of plant managers and superintendents, directors, research team members, marketing professionals, sales and account managers, formulators and plant personnel who work together each day and have many years of experience in the self-fed supplement business. Additionally, our customers — including the dealers who sell CRYSTALYX — bring many years of expertise to the team. Thanks to their daily interactions with end-users, they have the advantage and ability to match the right product to the right feeding application for their customers. The CRYSTALYX team is made up of skilled individuals to provide high-quality, performance-enhancing products for our customers to meet their needs.

Performance with mineral supplementation

Supplementing with CRYSTALYX is an investment in the future performance of your cow herd. By supplementing the nutrients your cattle need, you will help improve your bottom line. We know that mineral nutrition is important, and trace mineral nutrition plays an especially important role in many performance factors in a cow-calf operation. Reproductive performance and fertility depend on trace minerals — specifically zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.

Minerals should be supplemented year-round. Normally, pastures and forages may be deficient in some minerals — or may even have too much, which can result in antagonistic effects by preventing the absorption of other minerals. By providing a self-fed supplement, cattle can get what they need when they need it. It is also important to be sure that the cattle receive the minerals they need leading up to calving. Research has shown that the Bioplex® organic trace minerals that are available in many CRYSTALYX supplements help improve overall calf health via enhanced immunoglobulin absorption from colostrum and better weaning weights, with several studies showing a 25-pound improvement. Each of these factors can positively impact your bottom line, which is why we consider supplementing with CRYSTALYX an investment that provides returns.

Performance with protein supplementation

As fall approaches, many pastures are reaching dormancy, and in many parts of the U.S. this year, drought conditions have severely impacted forage quality. For cow-calf operations, forages are the most valuable resource. When pastures dry up, there is a lot of uncertainty and the management practices needed to make up for the deficiency in both forage quality and quantity must increase. Providing a self-fed protein supplement like CRYSTALYX under these conditions can help. While forages during dry periods may contain less crude protein and more fibrous material, a protein supplement will improve the digestibility of low-quality forages and increase the amount of critical energy cows can extract from the forage. This will help improve the protein status of the cow, which also helps overall productivity in terms of maintaining body condition, milk production and proper fetal development. In addition to protein, these forages may also be lacking in minerals and vitamins. It is especially important to ensure that cattle are consuming sufficient amounts of phosphorus, as well as vitamin A, which can also be deficient in forages harvested before or after a drought.

Pasture performance

When we talk about performance, we are highlighting not only cow performance but the beneficial pasture performance that we can achieve through feeding CRYSTALYX as well. Managing the grazing pattern or grazing distribution of cattle can be easily accomplished by providing a self-fed CRYSTALYX supplement. During the fall and winter months, cattle on pasture may take the easy route and graze near water sources or lowland riparian areas, which may lead to overgrazing. This can be avoided by strategically placing barrels in areas where you want the cattle to go — such as the highland and rougher-terrain areas — or to lure them into grazing more underutilized areas.

Extensive research that collected data through a GPS system on cattle showed that CRYSTALYX helped cows to better utilize existing forage by spending more time within a 600-yard radius of the supplement. Grass utilization also improved when cattle grazed while going to and from the barrel. The palatability of the molasses block not only lures cattle to graze specific areas but also entices consumption. Regardless of whether they were offered a harvested forage or grazed in pastures, it was noted that a greater percentage of cows consumed CRYSTALYX each day compared to a conventional dry mineral, which resulted in a better mineral status across the herd.

Under the dry conditions or drought scenarios many areas across the U.S. are experiencing, barrel placement can also help strategically move cattle farther from water that may be harder to find or that may dry up in some pastures under dry conditions. This can help improve grazing distribution and reduce overgrazing on already-stressed forages.

Weaning performance

As we transition to autumn, most spring-calving cow herds will begin thinking about weaning off this year’s calf crop. Some of our most popular products during this time of year are our stress blocks, including Brigade® and Blueprint® Battalion. These products are specifically formulated with the minerals and vitamins that are critical during times of stress but that the calves may be depleted of. These blocks really help calves get off to the right start by stimulating their appetite and helping them get on feed. Also, through the licking action, the blocks help buffer the rumen and soothe their throats, which is helpful as they tend to bawl more during this time. These weaning-stress block options really help drive performance in the right direction come weaning time.

Serving the barrel

When we think about serving at CRYSTALYX, we think about serving the barrel to the cattle. Since CRYSTALYX is a self-fed supplement, the barrel can be placed out with the cattle, and it is available to them 24/7. Unlike some other supplementation methods, the cattle don’t need to wait to receive the supplement two or three times per week, as it is constantly available to them in a palatable yet controlled form. Since this is the case, not only is it convenient for the cattle, but it’s also convenient for the cattlemen. Supplementation in this way saves you time as well as labor. Serving convenience through self-fed supplementation, especially in today’s day and age, is important in most operations.

Something unique about CRYSTALYX brand supplements is that we offer products that can be served in three different container options. The black steel container has been around for a long time and is an iconic look for CRYSTALYX. We also offer 200-pound plastic options, as well as the BioBarrel®. The BioBarrel has been around for several years now, but improvements have been made along the way to help this biodegradable container stand up under harsher conditions. Made up of straw, wood fiber and flour, along with WeatherAll® technology to improve weatherability, this container is an environmentally friendly and unique way to serve supplements to your cattle.

CRYSTALYX is more than just a self-fed supplement. It is an investment in the current and future performance of your cow herd. With CRYSTALYX, performance is served. Locate your closest dealer, or look through product options to fit the needs of your cattle.