At Tisthammer Bros. near Albion, NE, Andy, Mark and Brian operate a diversified farming and beef cow-calf operation. They produce quality commercial Angus and SimAngus cattle, specializing in developing bred replacement heifers. Sound nutrition programs have always been in place and new ways to improve are often explored. In 2018, the Tisthammers worked with their local feed supplier; Country Partners Cooperative and Hubbard Feeds to evaluate Blueprint®, one of the latest nutrition technologies available in CRYSTALYX® and Hubbard® mineral programs.
CRYSTALYX programs have been used successfully for 5 years at Tisthammer Bros. Andy commented, “We first used CRYSTALYX with Bio-Mos® to help with scours at calving. We were also intrigued by the BioBarrel® containers which kept us from having empties stack up at the end of the year.”
The Blueprint program
CRYSTALYX and Hubbard Blueprint® products provide Bioplex® organic trace minerals as a total replacement of inorganic trace minerals such as sulfates. “We decided to try the Blueprint program in 2018 to help improve conception rates,” said Andy. The Tisthammers began using the CRYSTALYX® Blueprint® BreedUp® 28 containing Actigen® in March during their calving season. They then switched to CRYSTALYX® Blueprint® 17 Mag for grazing on lush spring pasture to help prevent grass tetany. Their summer mineral program consisted of a Hubbard® Blueprint® 8% Phos Mineral with Clarifly® for fly control through early fall.
The above products were used with all replacement heifers and about two-thirds of the cow herd. The remainder of cows were kept on a conventional dry loose mineral and fly control program as a comparison to the Blueprint program. Historically, this program had worked well with very good results. Past breeding performance resulted in 94% of the cows and heifers rebreeding.
In late fall of 2018, pregnancy tests showed that the cows fed Blueprint bred at 97% with all heifers and first calf heifers bred. The group fed the conventional program remained where they had historically. Additionally, weaning weights – albeit similar between groups – could have been positively-affected because cattle fed Blueprint CRYSTALYX and mineral programs were actually grazing lower-quality pastures than cattle on the conventional program.
Success with CRYSTALYX continues and has improved at Tisthammer’s through the use of Blueprint. Andy would recommend others to try it stating, “If it works for us, there’s no reason it can’t help another herd. When I do something, I like to do it right; it’s not always about what the cheapest investment is.”
The Tisthammer’s also noted that they appreciate the local knowledge and service they receive from Country Partners Cooperative.