In the Field

"We use CRYSTALYX to draw the cows up to underutilized grazing areas."

David Maichel runs a 500 pair cow-calf operation in southwestern Montana. His family has been working this same land since 1898. He and four other ranchers graze their cattle on the 100,000-acre Harrison allotment. 35 years ago the allotment was divided into four pastures for rest-rotation management. Now, they're being pressured to reduce the number of grazing days on the allotment.

"We're getting pressure from the Forest Service to either reduce our numbers by 28% or our grazing days by that same number and that's why we're looking for answers to counteract that," Maichel said.

Maichel used CRYSTALYX® during calving and was quite impressed with the product. He met with CRYSTALYX® representatives and discussed using the supplement as a way to limit their reduction in grazing days on his public lands allotment.

"The idea we came up with was to utilize CRYSTALYX® up in the mountains and get it in locations where we have the feed but not necessarily the cows in the hopes of drawing the cows to those areas."

650 pairs were taken up to the grazing area. CRYSTALYX® barrels were packed on horseback, delivered by the herders and placed in underused areas.

"I made a few trips up there and what I observed was that the forage was quite well utilized," Maichel said. "The product was, of course, consumed and the beauty of it is that then you can pick the barrels up and use them as kind of a leader to get the cattle on to the next spot."

Maichel believes that using CRYSTALYX® as a grazing management tool is a way to ease the pressure between ranchers and the Forest Service by better utilizing the grazing opportunities on public lands allotments.

"I'm a fifth generation rancher on my place. And it's getting tougher and tougher to keep it going. The resource (pasture forage) is in your back door and it's the cheapest stuff you can get. It's usually pretty decent feed so it is a big part of the program. It would negatively affect us if we lost the ability to graze these areas."

Maichel offered advice to producers who are in a similar situation with public lands grazing. "Don't be afraid to try it. You can always just try it around your own place to start with and in certain areas where you have trouble getting cows to go. You can train the cows to the product and once they see you put it out, they'll be interested in it and come up to it."