In areas that have been able to maintain adequate moisture in the summer heat, the grazing season and hay growing conditions have been good. Often though, heat causes grass to mature very quickly. As plants mature, they lay down more fiber, which is less digestible, and the plant protein declines significantly. On the other end of the spectrum, the weather provided too much moisture around the ideal hay-making time in some areas, and we have harvested some fairly low-quality hay this summer.
Fortunately, with a little help, cattle are phenomenal at taking forage of all quality levels and turning it into food. If properly supplemented with carbohydrates and protein, the rumen will drive rumen microbial fiber digestion. CRYSTALYX® protein supplements deliver the nutrition needed to optimize rumen fermentation and feed your cow. They do this through:
- Keeping rumen fiber-digesting bacteria thriving: The licking action promotes natural rumen buffering through saliva production. Rumen fiber-digesting bacteria must have a relatively high rumen pH to thrive. When we slug feed a grain mix with even a small amount of starch or, worse, straight corn, we cause a drop in rumen pH. This kills off fiber-digesting bacteria, and it may be several days before the bacterial population recovers. If this happens repeatedly, we now have a rumen resembling a steer in the feedlot and not a cow on forage. Excessive intake of liquid supplements can do the same thing.
- Protein and nitrogen delivery: In average to low-quality forage, the first limiting nutrient will be protein. The rumen bacteria require both protein and nitrogen to grow and digest fiber. Some of the “natural” protein we feed is broken down into ammonia nitrogen, which gets recirculated and utilized by a group of fiber-digesting bacteria.
- Carbohydrate energy delivery: When many people think about the energy needs of the cow, they first go to TDN and fat level. However, from a rumen health standpoint, carbohydrates, in the form of simple sugars, are what drive rumen forage digestion. With CRYSTALYX, the delivery of protein and carbohydrates are synchronized. The rumen bacteria ferment the forage fiber to rumen volatile fatty acids (VFA), which are the cow’s energy sources. Optimizing rumen function and maintaining a healthy liver is critical to this biological energy system. Corn and fat both have great TDN values, but excess can negatively impact both rumen and liver function.
By doing all this, CRYSTALYX maximizes your forage utilization, keeps costs down and makes it easy to take care of your cows. CRYSTALYX blocks also provide you with other benefits, including:
- Labor and equipment savings: We must consider the total cost per head per day. Daily or even every-third-day feeding of cake or grain requires more time and labor cost compared to a block feeding program. The cost of feeding the grain or cake is often greater than the cost of the grain or cake on a $/head/day basis.
- Waterproof, windproof and waste-proof delivery: Shrink or waste is a real cost for a grain or cake program, and it adds up in three places: at the feed bin, in the delivery and at the feeding site. For CRYSTALYX, the cows lick every bit, meaning there is nothing left to waste.
- Consistent delivery of the mineral and additive package: Most CRYSTALYX self-fed supplements have a complete mineral profile, negating the need for additional minerals. The fact cows consume the product daily is a real advantage over free-choice mineral, which can be variable.
CRYSTALYX has a wide variety of protein, mineral and specialty self-fed supplements, all playing a role in maintaining rumen health and optimizing rumen function. Our Blueprint® supplement line incorporates Bioplex® organic trace minerals.
Making a profit in the cow-calf business is about keeping expenses low and getting the most out of your forage. By focusing on the rumen, CRYSTALYX self-fed supplements ensure that your animals get what they need no matter what you give them.