Delivering more protein this fall with CrystalBlox

Sep 17, 2019

Fall is here and with that comes a change in forage quality. Fiber levels increase and protein levels decline, making now an ideal time for protein supplementation. Tim Clark is on the podcast to help you plan your supplementation program for fall and winter.


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Tom:      This is Tom Martin, and CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements’ nutritionist, Tim Clark is here with us to help you plan your supplementing program for fall and winter.

               Greetings, Tim.

Tim:       Good morning, Tom.

Tom:      Fall is here and, with the change in season, comes a change in forage quality. Tim, can you talk to us about why supplementing protein is critical for utilization of late season forage and low-quality hay?

Tim:       Yeah, the forage quality changes or declines pretty rapidly this time of year. It will vary depending on the weather we’re having; currently, we’re having a quite a bit of a heat wave and dry spell here in the Southeast, which is really going to change pasture quality and forage quality.

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               Typically, what happens is our fiber levels really increase and protein levels decline. So, we may have abundant forage, but it’s going to be pretty tough — tough as in protein content and low digestibility. So, supplementing this time of year can really help us improve that rumen function and the animal can digest that higher fiber forage better and actually extract more energy out of it.

               And, the economics come into play if we’ve got some cows who are a little light on condition or some young stock that we’re trying to put some low cost gains on, it’s much easier to do it, you know, here over the next couple of months before cold weather sets in.​

Tom:      It seems like it would follow that the reproductive performance would be improved?

Tim:       Yeah, the key factor on getting cows bred back after the calving season is having them in the right body condition before we go into the fall and winter season. So, it’s all about getting that target body condition that we want and maintaining those cows in that condition is going to have a big impact.

Tom:      Okay, what supplementation options are out there and how do they differ?

Tim:       There are several different options. Really how they differ is how much labor and time is involved with supplementing. You could do a commodity mix or creep or cube-type program when you’re hand-delivering feed to the cattle every two or three days or every day, depending on the group. That works well, but you’ve got a lot of time and labor tied up in doing that because you’re doing it every few days.

               Tub or block programs work well and their biggest value, really, is the convenience and time savings. Instead of feeding the cows every other day or every third day, you’re putting new blocks out about every 10-18 days, depending on cattle numbers and intake. So, liquid is another option, but there’s even less control on what intake levels you’ll get with liquid feeding. So, there are several ways to get it done; it all comes down to time and money.

Tom:      So, historically what are the different types of blocks available and what sets them apart from one another?

Tim:       We focus on blocks. We actually make all the different types. Some people don’t realize it, but there are different forms. Poured blocks are a really lower price point product because it’s a pretty inexpensive manufacturing process. It’s kind of like a Tootsie Roll set up —we chemically harden the molasses and liquids, but the intakes can be variable, between two to three pounds, so we don’t have the intake control.

               Then there are compressed products that are based off of distillers and we actually compress the mixed feed into a tub.

And then, there’s low moisture. Some people call them cooked tubs, where we actually dehydrate the molasses and blend in the proteins and vitamins to have a low intake product that’s typically going to be consumed in that three-quarters of a pound range for proteins.

Tom:      We talked earlier on the podcast about the newest block type —CrystalBlox™ or CLMB.

               Tim, can you refresh our memory on what exactly this new block type is?

Tim:       It’s really the first new block type that’s come on the market in probably twenty years. We actually have a patent on the process. It’s a combination of our compressed, which gives us the economical distiller’s base to work with. We compress a star-shaped indention into the center of the block when we compress it and then, within that star-shape, we fill that in with the low moisture or the CRYSTALYX product. And, that gives us the intake control and improves the palatability acceptance of the whole block. So, it kind of give us the best of both worlds from those two product options.

Tom:      And, how and why was CrystalBlox developed? Did you see a real need with cattle producers for something different than what was available on the market at the time?

Tim:       We really had two objectives. We do great deal of low moisture. However, there’s times when we would like to deliver a little bit more with low moisture and that’s just difficult to do because you don’t want to make a soft low moisture block — that’s kind of defeats the purpose.

And then, with the compressed product, that gives us a lot of flexibility. You know from fiber digestibility we could include other technologies and compressed different enzymes to help improve fiber that we wouldn’t be able to include in the low moisture. So, it gave us a chance to improve both forms, get a little bit more intake, but still have some control on the range of intakes that we would get.

Tom:      So, the intake range with CrystalBlox is more flexible?

Tim:       Quite a bit more flexible. Our low moisture blocks, like I said earlier on the proteins, are going to be around three quarters of a pound. You can work it around a little bit and maybe get up to a pound, but that’s about the limit on how high we can go with low moisture.

               With the compressed tubs, we’ll see two to three pounds sometimes, but another problem with the compressed line is we can have some problems with cattle acceptance, especially in young cattle. So, the combination with that CRYSTALYX in the center will really help get cattle started on it.

And so, we’re seeing on average a pound and a quarter intake with the CrystalBlox and we can work that up or down a little bit by playing with the cow to tub ratio. You start out at a certain point, one tub for every 30 cows and see where the intake is. If you need a little bit more, you add a container, if you need some less, you take it away or change positioning, so it offers quite a bit more flexibility. We can move it to a half a pound pretty easily.

Tom:      I’m curious about the kind of feedback you’re getting. What’s the experience looking like on farms and ranches? What have you been hearing from producers?

Tim:       It gives them another tool in their toolbox, especially with some groups that are wanting that higher intake. Traditional CRYSTALYX users are very content with CRYSTALYX in the way it works, but if they’ve got a group of animals that are a little bit thinner, this gives them the option to deliver a little bit more.

               We’ve seen producers using it on their development programs for their  heifers that they’re developing or in their first calf heifers —after she’s had her first calf trying to get that animal turned back around and bred back on time for herds where they can group those animals separately. It’s giving them another tool where, for this group, I can deliver just a little bit more, but keep it in control.

Tom:      We began by talking about what happens to forages as cold weather sets in. Are there specific CrystalBlox formulas that you would recommend feeding this fall to help with supplementing protein on those low-quality forages?

Tim:       Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward with the CrystalBlox line. We have a minimal number of our products. I think we’re up to like six products right now. If you’re going to have some really poor quality — like something that’s going to test under 10% protein — or running cattle on stockpiled forages or corn stocks, then we would go with our 30-15, 30% protein.

               If you’ve got a little better quality or don’t need that much protein, we have a 20% all-natural. And each of those comes in our standard mineral product, which is a good mineral fortification and we also have a Blueprint® fortification option within those formulas and Blueprint is our total replacement technology mineral supplementation. And, we have a product with the 20% all-natural with Fibrozyme®, which is going to be a real popular item, and the 20% with FEB-200™ and AO for fescue pasture.

Tom:      All right. I’ve been talking with CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements’ nutritionist, Tim Clark.

               Thanks for coming in, Tim.

Tim:       I appreciate it. Thank you.