How to estimate ROI and time savings and with CRYSTALYX®

Oct 23, 2023

Ryan Bapst and Brayden Hawkins discuss how much CRYSTALYX® supplements can earn and taking efficiency a step further with the BioBarrel®.



RELATED ARTICLE:  What would you do with an extra 225 days?


RELATED ARTICLE:  How much does a pound of supplement earn?

Tom:                                 I'm Tom Martin, back with Ridley Block Operations sales managers, Ryan Bapst and Brayden Hawkins. Ryan joining us from Beaver, Ohio. Brayden is with us from Itasca, Texas. Welcome back, Ryan and Brayden. 


Ryan:                                Thank you. very nice to be here.


Brayden:                          Thanks for having us, Tom.


Tom:                                 And Ryan and Brayden are here for the latest conversation in the Beyond the Barrel podcast to talk about the value of time and how much a pound of supplement can earn. And I'd like to start with you, Ryan, if I could. We operate in terms of 1,200-1,500 pound cows, tons of hay, acres of pasture. So, just a mere pound of supplement doesn’t seem like a lot, but it's worth more today than it ever has been in the history of cattle. Is that correct and why?


 Ryan:                                Well, Tom, I think that given the current economic environment within the cattle business today, performance and efficiency is of the utmost importance. And getting the most performance and efficiency possible can bring a lot of return to producers, whether that means pounds sold through the sale barn or whether it's reproductive efficiency to get more out of their cows, to breed back earlier and be more efficient at the end of the day. 


 Tom:                                 Well, I know that you're often asked how a pound of Crystalyx makes a difference to a cow's nutrition. And in earlier blocks, you've talked about the importance of protein supplementation to improve performance in cattle that are consuming low or moderate quality forages. Let's take that a couple of steps further and apply that concept to today's markets and cattle values. How can supplementation strategies help make up the difference and add to the profit column on our balance sheets? 


 Ryan:                                Well, Crystalyx, you're really not feeding the cow. You're feeding the rumen. And a typical three-quarters of a pound a day Crystalyx protein supplement not only improves forage digestibility, but it also helps enhance dry matter intake of that cow. You know, really what we're wanting to do is improve the utilization of forages and the on-farm resources that we have available whether it be standing in the pasture or whether it being stored in the hay barn, and getting the most out of those to improve the nutritional performance of our cows and help 'em breed back, help 'em milk a little bit more. And maintain body condition score throughout the tougher times is very, very important. 


Tom:                                 So why are these critical BCS levels at calving recognized as a tipping point of reproductive success in the following breeding season? 


Ryan:                                We've seen through a lot of different research projects over the years, and it's really not new rocket science by any means that improving cow's body condition score from 4 to body condition score at 5 at calving really seems to be the biggest percentage improvement of performance, whether that be improving the subsequent reproductive performance of the cow after they calf and then also promoting higher average daily gains to that calf because they're just simply born earlier in the breeding season, and also improved immune function that's been proven through these. Improving cows from a BCS of 4 to a BCS of 5 really pays off when it comes to not only pound performance, but also health and reproductive performance of the cows too. 


Brayden:                          I'll actually add some numbers to that a little bit. I think going from a BCS of 4 to 5 increases pregnancy rates by on average about 25%. I mean, for easy mass, say you've got 100 cows and you get an extra 25% calves on an 80% conception rate without supplement, and I mean, that's a lot of money in today's current economic environment. 


Tom:                                 Brayden, you've noted an irony here that in today's world of high-price time-saving gadgets and those efficiency optimizing gizmos that are out there that it seems that many producers still feel that they just never have enough time. How does time figure into the equation when we're penciling out the value of Crystalyx?


Brayden:                          I'd argue that our time-saving component of feeding Crystalyx might be the most important thing that we have to offer. And yeah, it's kind of funny, in my blog, I did write about, it seems like, every tool that we have is supposed to save you time here or make this more efficient.

                                           There's schedules and calendars for everything. Yet when you're having belly to belly conversations with people, it seems like "God, I don't have enough time for this. I don't have enough time for that." And going back to the Crystalyx, I think that the labor and time savings alone is probably the most economically relevant thing that we have to offer. If here's a link to my blog maybe in the show notes or something, there's a chart on there, and it shows how much in the total cost of Crystal X is delivery cost, time cost, and waste. And only 2 cents out of the entire 57 cents is associated with time and labor.

                                          I mean, that is a very small percentage of the cost of feeding Crystalyx. Whereas compared to a handfed supplement, about half of the total cost to feed that is associated with labor and time. So when you compare the two, yeah, the cost of the supplement itself might be a little bit more on Crystalyx, but the time and labor savings is considerable.


Ryan:                                Yeah, I'll definitely second that, Brayden. You know, in my part of the world, it's quite a bit different than in the Eastern Corn Belt where I live from compared to where you live. A lot of the producers in this part of the world, their cattle gig is after hours, after their full-time jobs. And time really puts the constraints. It really clamps down what you can and can't get done in a day's time. And just being able to make sure that your cows have supplementation to get the most out of their forages 24 hours a day whenever they wanna do it and you only have to go out there and check 'em when it's convenient for you, that's a huge plus in today's really busy world, I fell.


Tom:                                 I would say that's a big peace of mind factor too while you're pulling in that other paycheck, right? 


Ryan:                                Absolutely. Absolutely. 


Tom:                                 Well, Brayden, talking now to that producer who says you can't put a price tag on their time, that their time is just priceless, what are the added time and cost saving benefits of the BioBarrel compared to Crystalyx in traditional plastic or steel barrels? 


Brayden:                          Yeah, so a lot of the times when we reference cost and labor savings with Crystalyx, it's in our traditional plastic or steel barrels. And that is a multi-trip container, so you have to put it out, then you have to physically go check it, then you have to go pick it up when it's empty. Like I said in the previous note, we have a considerable advantage over handfed supplements just in our traditional containers. When you take it that step farther with the BioBarrel, you're essentially cutting your already very short labor and very small labor and time amount with the traditional barrel in half 'cause you only have to put it out.

                                           You can see it from a distance on how much is left in there 'cause the cattle consume it down and then you don't have to go pick it up. So when you're looking at a fraction of a percent already being used on a traditional container and cutting that in half again, I mean, you're really looking at serious cost and labor savings with the bio compared to an already very small amount with a traditional container.


Tom:                                 Okay. Back to you, Ryan. And how can coupling Crystalyx protein supplements with the Blueprint mineral program improve this nutrition program even more?


Ryan:                                Crystalyx Blueprint products, they couple kind of the best of both worlds. You get a self-fed supplement that helps enhance fiber digestibility and use of your forages that also contains the most technologically advanced mineral package on the market. Blueprint is 100% organic trace minerals. It's based in efficiency. And we're seeing more and more through research studies that it just drives home the fact that we're getting improved weaning weights, we're getting improved reproductive efficiencies, and we're seeing improved immune functions.

                                           If you can improve your forage utilization on your operation and at the same time improve health, performance and get the most out of your genetic investment, I think it's a win-win situation. And if you're able to couple that with a BioBarrel delivery system, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the game, and you're just getting the most out of your cows.


Tom:                                 Well, Brayden, you've mentioned in your blog that you recently had a long visit with a cowman that you admire, and he's told you that we have to get back to making the cattle work for us, not the other way around. What was he saying there? What did he mean by that? 


Brayden:                          I think he had a number of things in mind, Tom, but I think the core of it is with all of the new technologies and all of the new things that are constantly introduced in our business that are very important to stay innovative and to still be progressive, at times, we gotta stake a step back and tell ourselves, "Hey, these cows are a business for us, and we've gotta make sure they're doing their part when it comes to making us money."

                                           And part of that is, I think, being conscious of our time and how much we're putting into each one of those cows. I'd like to wrap up on my end with some figures that I've put together. And it looks at how much time you could save feeding Crystalyx in a BioBarrel versus feeding handfed over a 120-day feeding period. That's about the number of days you'd get a full winter.

                                           So once you do the math and figure you've got a couple hours a week in putting out Crystalyx in a BioBarrel versus an hour a day over hand feeding, it saves you about an extra 4-1/2 days in a winter by feeding Crystalyx in a BioBarrel, which on the surface doesn't sound like a ton. But 4-1/2 days spread out over the course of 50 years, that's about 225 days that you'd get back just by switching to Crystalyx in a BioBarrel.

                                           And I think anybody would tell you they'd take an extra 225 days to spend with their family and friends or other things that they find value in. So I'll wrap up with that because I think if there's an opportunity to keep the performance of your cattle very high, like Ryan's talked about, and also save yourself 225 days, I don't know many people that turned down that proposition.


Tom:                                 That's true. And Ryan, back to you with the value question and in terms of dollars and cents, how can a pound of Crystalyx supplement earn way more than the investment than it costs? 


Ryan:                                So that's a really good question. And I think whenever you start taking back the improvement of your forage efficiency in your cow herd and couple that with what it costs to feed a cow herd, so let's just say for instance, if we just look at the data and what we've learned over the past several years, that if you improve 25% of your cow herds' calving dates by bumping up from a second to the first heat cycle in cows getting bred or from the third to the second heat cycle getting bred, and you look at 500-pound calves at 250 a pound, if 30% of that herd improves, you're looking at a two to one investment just improving those 25% of the herd on the entire cost of supplementing that herd over a 150-day speeding period. So I think a two to one return on investment is a pretty nice way to look at it.


Tom:                                 All right. We've been listening to Ridley Block Operations sales managers, Ryan Bapst and Brayden Hawkins. I'm Tom Martin, and thanks for joining us. 

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