In the Field

"I think we've found the answer."

As part of their cattle business in Cardwell, Montana, Melvin and Chad Armstrong contracted to provide recipients for cattle embryo transfers. Many of the embryo owners brought several different brands of conventional dry minerals to the Armstrong's. The built-up pile of unused dry minerals that accumulated over the last few years, along with the salt left in the irrigated pasture mineral troughs told them something wasn't working.

"Under-consumption was always the way the numbers figured out," Melvin Armstrong said. "The wild game wouldn't even clean it up over the winter. A cow has to eat a mineral if it's going to help out with better production."

Early in the 2003 grazing season Melvin and Chad used CRYSTALYX® Crystal-Phos® along with BGF-30™ protein supplement on their U.S. Forest Service permitted grazing land. They were surprised and impressed with the uniform consumption of Crystal-Phos® on the green mountain grass.

"Until the green grass started to cure out, they ate them both about the same," Melvin said.

Armstrong decided to test how much Crystal-Phos® cow-calf pairs would eat on the highest quality fall forage. He moved 67 spring-born, cow-calf pairs to an 80-acre irrigated field that had a third cutting left standing to graze. He also placed two 125-pound barrels of Crystal-Phos® in the pasture; nineteen days later the Crystal-Phos® was gone, and Melvin had his answer.

"Cattle consumed the Crystal-Phos® on the best grazing feed we had available," he said. "We usually put out an ionophore pressed block for cow asthma in the fall and hope for some sort of bloat control, but I didn't think all the cattle got some of that kind of block. I watched the Crystal-Phos® barrels closely, and it seemed to me there was always a different animal there, day or night. I think they all got Crystal-Phos®, and we didn't have any asthma or bloat either. In fact, we have had less of that these last four years, since the cows have been coming in off the CRYSTALYX® barrels. We use them all summer on our forest permit grazing."

Armstrong has spent the last five years managing a community grazing system that grazes pairs on green, irrigated feed prior to being sent to Forest Service mountain pastures. The challenge has been finding adequate conventional dry mineral consumption.

"All I wanted was to get the bottom half of the calves closer to the top gainers," Melvin said. "Flies and pinkeye were always a problem. We tried everything - vaccinations, ionophore blocks, fly tags, liquid feeds, dry mineral. We didn't get any gain response from any of that from the bottom-end calves. There always seemed to be something missing, but I couldn't find the system to get it into the calves and cows when they were on green, irrigated feed. Now, with Crystal-Phos®, I think we have found the answer."