Supplementing dairy cattle with CRYSTALYX fills in the TMR safety net and actually costs less than over fortifying the diet. Listen to Tim Clark discuss the exciting new updates to the CRYSTALYX dairy products and why dairy producers should use a self-fed supplement on the latest Block Talk Podcast.
Tom: We’re speaking today with Tim Clark, nutritionist with CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements about some exciting new changes to CRYSTALYX dairy products.
Thanks for joining us, Tim.
Tim: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Tim, many cattle producers think of beef cattle when they think of CRYSTALYX. But, some dairy producers may not realize that there are plenty of dairy products as well.
How are CRYSTALYX dairy products different from the beef products?
Tim: Well, that is very true. A lot of people think of beef automatically when we’re talking about CRYSTALYX, but it’s got a long history of helping dairy producers solve problems with their dairy supplements. We actually have a separate dairy supplement guide.
Unlike beef, when we’re talking about our dry cows and transition cows, it’s more of a consistent mineral delivery system, more so than our protein on the beef side we’re delivering protein to cows and minerals, but on the dairy side typically the protein is already delivered through the ration they’re already getting.
So, for our dry cows and transition cows, it’s mainly a mineral delivery, but it’s the consistency of delivery that gives it the real advantage.
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We’ve got a couple of lactating formulas that are delivering either general nutrition trace minerals and vitamins or with our Buffer-lyx® products specifically buffer — different buffer sources for lactating.
Now, when it comes to the young stock, our Replacement Heifer™ products and our products that we use at weaning are very similar. There’s dairy protein formula for growing heifers called Replacement Heifer that is very common in dairy operations. And then, the Blueprint® Battalion® and the Brigade® are often used on dairies for calves at weaning and when they’re making pen changes.
So, some similarities, but quite different and a lot of dairy producers and dairy nutritionists do not realize that they’re available.
Tom: Okay. So, where and why are these products used on a dairy operation? Can you give us some examples of what type of a feeding situation CRYSTALYX barrels would be best used in?
Tim: Yeah. It’s really a convenience and peace of mind that you know that you’re getting your trace minerals and vitamins delivered consistently regardless of where the animals are or where they’re at in the schedule for the day to get fed.
Often time, dry cows are some of the last groups to get fed on the farm or there are cows off farm or in a different location or pasture. For the dry cows we have product called Dry Cow™, pretty obvious where it’s utilized. It can be fed always through the dry period. You know, they consume the product by licking, so very controlled consistent intake.
And it fits in well with dry cows because dry cows on a dairy operation are pretty much on a diet that’s similar to what a beef cow would be on, very high in forage, not much grain coming through the diet. So, all the benefits of improving forage digestibility and improving intake holds true with dairy as well.
But, the dairy formulas are much more fortified or higher fortification on the trace minerals and vitamins, just because of the production and environment that dairy cows are in.
After the full dry period, if a producer is having troubles with hypocalcaemia or low blood calcium — milk fever is what it’s referred to — we have a product called Close-Up™ Formula that delivers the same nutrients as Dry Cow, but it also delivers anionic salts to help prevent and reduce the incidence of milk fever.
It’s a negative DCAD product, so it can’t be fed after calving. So, it’s fed two to three weeks in the close-up end on farms that are wanting to help fight milk fever incidence. And that’s mainly due to high levels of potassium in the diet.
And you can get a lot of sources of potassium — mainly it’s the forage — and that can vary between which bale of hay you’re on or which bunker of silage. So, having a self-fed supplement just kind of helps even out that variation.
If the producer is not having issues with milk fever, we have a product called Transition Stress. It’s a mineral block with about a quarter of pound intake. It can be fed pre- and post-calving. There are no additives in there that would limit where and how it could be used. It’s very popular in fresh cow pens due to the variation that we have in those pens with the dry matter intake.
And, once we get past the dry cow period and the transition period, the two products that we have for lactating animals are our Buffer-lyx® product and Dairy-lyx®. Buffer-lyx is specifically just delivering buffer sources and Dairy-lyx is utilized on grazing dairies.
Tom: We know that on most dairy operations, the ration balancing and nutritional knowledge is quite advanced. So, why should dairy producers use a self-fed supplement?
Tim: Well, I get that question quite a bit actually. I’ve even had a producer that I was doing the nutrition work on, when I suggested that we needed these products, he said, “Well, if you are any good at ration balancing, I wouldn’t need these.”
And, I just had to explain to him that it just helps with all the variation that happens regardless of what ration you’re using, specifically with dry cows and transition cows. A lot of the farms are going to have mature cows that are 1,800 to 2,000 lbs housed in the same pen that’s going to have a first calf heifer that might be 1,100 lbs. So, the dry matter intake between those animals are going to be 35 lbs for that big mature cow to 18-20 lbs for that small heifer.
So, that kind of variation within a pen, you know, you strike in the middle and balance for say 25-26 lbs of dry matter, but you’re really shorting that heifer on her nutrient needs because you balance the diet for in the middle and she’s on the bottom side. She’s not getting everything she needs.
What nutritionists have done historically is — for that group — let’s say they needed 10 parts copper or 10 parts per million copper. They knew that they had high variations, so they just over fortified. You know, instead of balancing it for 10, they would balance the diet for 30 or 40. That way the animals that are eating less still got what they needed, but animals that are on average or eating higher, they really get excessive amounts.
So, that has come back to hurt them. You know, we get excessive nutrients in the manure. I believe copper will be a nutrient that will be monitored and we will be forced to do nutrient management plans on copper because of the amount of copper we’ve been over-feeding and it also hurts the animal.
When you feed high levels of trace minerals, they can go from being a good thing to being a bad thing — turned into a pro-oxidant or causing damage. Specifically, in the dairy region, nutritionists have got a lot of criticisms for overfeeding copper causing issues both with animal that they’re feeding it to and the calves that are born. We’ve had calves that have had liver damage and liver issues after birth because of the high level of copper that their mothers were receiving.
So, these blocks really help fill in that gap without overdoing the whole diet. It just helps us deal with that variation. And to compound the problem with the variation and dry matter intake around dry cows just before calving and right after calving is all animals will drop in dry matter 25-30%.
So, if a week before calving, if she is eating 25 lbs, right around calving, she might drop down to 10 and that’s just natural normal biology there. So, within these groups where we target the dry cow and transition cows, there’s just more variation than can actually be handled with the ration itself.
So, CRYSTALYX supplements really fit that niche and fill in that TMR safety net. It’s much more environmentally friendly to do it this way and actually costs less than over fortifying diet.
Tom: Well, Tim, I understand that there’s some exciting new updates to the current CRYSTALYX dairy products. What are those changes and why did you feel it was necessary to make the upgrade?
Tim: Yes. We have made the move to all of the dairy products are now CRYSTALYX Blueprint fortification. And Blueprint is our brand name for our total replacement technology. What that does is we’ve taken all the inorganic or rock form of trace minerals out of the products and replace them with their Alltech Bioplex® chelated organic trace minerals.
The chelated trace minerals are more bioavailable, so you don’t have to feed as much. So, on the fortification, we’re able to feed about 65-70% of where we were prior. So, we’re feeding less, which is good for the environment. It’s more bioavailable, so the cow is absorbing it and utilizing it better, so better for the cow and the calves.
And it’s really a unique fortification, unique concept. The nutrition industry has accepted organic chelated trace minerals, but they’ve gone in at a partial replacement often 20-25%. Part of that has been cost, part of that just been thinking that we didn’t need that to go 100% organic or 100% Bioplex.
But, what we’ve seen when we’ve done this, we’ve improved the performance, we’ve improved rumen function. It’s been very well-accepted in our poultry and beef diets, so it was just the logical step to make that step with dairy CRYSTALYX.
Tom: So, which CRYSTALYX dairy products are changing to a Blueprint formulation?
These are a change we didn’t add formulas. We just took existing formulas that were there and changed them, so it’s not you have an either or. We are committed and with the success that we’ve seen with the Blueprint technology, we’re all in and made a complete switch over.
Tom: Well, Tim, what would you say to a nutritionist or a dairy producer who is skeptical of using a CRYSTALYX dairy product?
Tim: Really go back to the old adage of if you’re trying to change something or making improvement, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
You know, one of the frustrations for nutritionists and dairymen is metabolic disorders around the time of calving. It could be retained placentas, retained fetal membranes, metritis after calving. We talked about milk fever with the Close-Up Formula.
You also get a condition called ketosis, just it’s energy-related. Most often, it’s related to rumen function and fiber and fiber digestibility feed intake.
We can help with all of those. So, give it a try. Track where you have been with those kind of problems in the past and see if you get improvement. You don’t need to improve too much to really pay for the product. I figure on the dairy side, it’s about a four to five to one return on investment when you start taking into account lower vet costs, less metabolic disorders and health problems with the cattle and then they just perform better in lactation after that.
So, I would challenge them to say prove us wrong that we can help.
Tom: Well, where can dairy producers who are listening go to find more information on the new CRYSTALYX Blueprint dairy products?
Tim: You can visit with your local CRYSTALYX dealer or you can go to our website, Crystalyx.com. That will have more detailed information on the products and the nutrient specs.
And I’ve recently done a blog on our Block Blogs about the dairy products. So, the website is an excellent source for information.
Tom: That’s Tim Clark, nutritionist with CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements. I’m Tom Martin. Thanks for listening.