School is back in session, and for many families with young children, it may feel like chaos: making sure the kids know where to get picked up or dropped off, getting all their school supplies, packing their lunches. Add in the new germs kids may encounter with one another, and sickness may be around the corner. The same feeling may be true for cattle producers during weaning, when the commingling of new pen mates, along with the stress, may challenge the immune systems of calves.
During the stressful events of weaning, shipping, grouping or breeding, here are three reasons why — and how — Crystalyx® Brigade® and Crystalyx Blueprint® Battalion® are popular choices that producers who use them won’t go without year after year:
- They’re both palatable and nutrient dense.
Keeping calves healthy and eating is a key component to weaning success. While all Crystalyx barrels are highly palatable and nutrient dense, what sorts stress blocks off from the rest is their fortification level of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Although intakes are relatively low for most weaned calves at around a quarter of a pound, the added nutrients are essential to help the calves overcome nutritional stresses they may be encountering as they adjust to their new environment. Add the benefits of Bioplex® organic trace minerals (OTMs), including superior absorption and utilization compared to other trace mineral forms, and calves will be getting what they need. With Blueprint Battalion, not only does it contain 100% Bioplex® OTM, but it has added Bio-Mos® 2 and chromium, which have been shown to be important in maintaining the health of stressed calves.
- Licking them increases saliva production.
While this may not be top of mind for most, the production of saliva from the calf’s licking action also plays a key role in making stress blocks successful during stressful times. Not only does it help line the throat of a bawling calf that may be going hoarse, it also increases the activity of enzymes that break down fats and starches, nourish rumen microorganisms, and serve as buffers and agents to help prevent bloat. All of these help with digestion, which encourages further consumption of the diet.
- Placement options easily encourage intake.
When it comes to management of the barrels, placement is key as calves are introduced to their new pens. They will typically walk the perimeter, learning this new environment (and hopefully not trying to find their escape plan). When you place barrels around the perimeter, calves will run into the supplement, and their own curiosity will have them smelling and licking it. Barrels can also be placed just behind the feed bunk, as the palatability of the product will help entice the calves to eat. This will help recently weaned calves get nutrients they need and get them on feed faster.
With the strong calf market we are seeing this year, you want to get the most out of your calves, keeping them healthy and getting them on feed. Preconditioned calves generally bring better prices at the sale barn, compared to calves just off the cow.
Which stress formula should you use, Brigade or Blueprint Battalion? For higher-stressed calves coming from multiple sources, or in sick pens, or if you are already on the Blueprint program, we would recommend Blueprint Battalion. Brigade is a good choice for lower-stressed calves that are farm- or ranch-weaned and come from single-source pens.
Studies have indicated that morbidity and mortality are reduced when calves are on a stress block like Brigade or Blueprint Battalion for the first 28 days of weaning. If you wean 100 calves and you save just one calf with Brigade, you will more than double your investment. 28 days on Brigade will be around $5 per head. The return on investment is there.