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Announcer: I’m Tom Martin, and with me is Tyler Melroe, beef nutritionist at Hubbard Feeds. Tyler has been talking nutritional innovation with ranch operation managers, and he’s here with us to share what he’s learned. Welcome, Tyler.
Tyler: Hey! How are you guys doing?
Announcer: Doing real good. And so, how have ranchers previously adapted new technologies into their cattle operations?
Tyler: You know, as we think about ranchers in general, it’s a very traditional business. But you know, to make it through all the years that ranches have made it through, they've had to be adaptive. And so, I think it's a fair place to start — and considering that we know that ranches have (the) ability to adapt. I mean, they adapt each year to new weather conditions and different things that happen to them in their environments. I think one really good example of them actually adapting (to) technology, though, has been what we've seen them do really over the last couple decades in terms of adapting genetics to what the marketplace wants.
And so, you know, I think things like DNA technology and, in particular, EPDs and ways to select genetics that fit their marketplace, they’ve been very much on the front of the curve in their ability to do that. And so, you know, they are adaptive, and they do have the opportunity to utilize and have shown they can use technology. We maybe haven't always seen that, though, in regards to nutrition, which tends to stay very, very traditional.
Announcer: Well, let's talk about that in terms of nutritional innovations. Why is it important to continuously adapt on the ranch?
Tyler: Again, like I just previously mentioned, if we think back, ranchers are very focused on their genetics. I think, in a lot of cases, the ranch’s genetics is really their brand. And so, it's something that they really stand behind. It’s something that they take a lot of pride in. And really, their cowherd becomes their reputation in that way. You know, nutrition is something that, I think, over time, as we've seen the level of genetic advancements being made, nutrition probably hasn't kept pace. And I mentioned just a second ago that nutrition appears to be still a little more traditional in terms of how it’s approached.
But if we consider how different their genetics are today than they were 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, it's easy that wrap your mind around the idea that we may not have kept up in terms of nutrition. And I think some producers are starting to understand that. I think they're making selection decisions for things like weaning weight, for example. And they're paying a premium for those particular genetics, but they may not be seeing the return on a ranch level that they were looking for. And so, nutritional innovation becomes a little tougher for them to incorporate, but it really does fit hand in hand (with) the advancements they’ve made in terms of genetics.
Announcer: Well, Tyler, talk to us about what you're finding in the way of willingness to adopt innovation and how it helps ranchers be aware of where they are on the scale.
Tyler: One good example of this is — it's been a few years now, (but) I think in 2018, we came out with what we call the Blueprint nutrition program. And it's been a great opportunity to work with producers and kind of, on a firsthand basis, kind of understand how they might — they might adopt something that’s a really innovative idea on the nutrition side of things. You know, I think everybody's probably seen the chart before; it's kind of a bell-shaped curve. And when a new technology or innovation comes out, buyers or people that utilize that technology kind of fall under different parts of the curve.
And so, on the one side of the curve, we have people that are innovators and early adopters of technology. And you’ve kind of got that big group in the middle, and then, on the backend, kind of the laggards that adopt technology. And I think, as you look at that, I think people on the front and the innovators and early adopters are willing to try a lot of new things. And they're very, very important — not because they're a high proportion of the producers that are out there, but oftentimes, they're very influential producers. And so, people that have the ability to try new things on the ranch are very, very important to their business.
And obviously, they're very willing, you know, in regards to your question, I think the willingness of the majority of the industry actually comes on the success or failure of those products among those innovators and early adopters. And so, that's one thing, when we think about our Blueprint program, we've been very fortunate with, is that we've had success with some of those early users, and they've really become the voice of the brand as it continues to move into more of the mainstream of the industry. When we see success there, the willingness of the rest of the industry becomes a lot easier to get their arms around.
Announcer: What should we be thinking about when we want to get the highest possible rate of adoption of nutrition innovation within family and/or business members working on the ranch?
Tyler: Yeah. You know, it depends what perspective you take there. I think, from the perspective of the ranch, one of the reasons that it's challenging to incorporate ideas in regard to nutrition — and particularly new innovation and nutrition — is that, from year to year, a lot of their results end up being dictated by Mother Nature. If they don't change anything, they can still have very different results from year to year, whether they're dry or wet, whatever type of challenges or stress they may see with their herd. They aren’t really able to do controlled research in their setting.
So, they’re very dependent on the information that companies do with universities and those sort of things. And again, they may incorporate a technology, and if the year is right, it may seem like a big success or it may seem like a big failure, depending on what happened to them in regard to the weather, but they don't know for sure if the change that they made actually had that type of influence. And so, in order to really become confident that you do or don't have the right product, it does take time. It takes using it for multiple years and seeing changes in your program, really, over time.
And so, from a standpoint of a family ranch operation, again, being patient with new technology that they incorporate on the nutrition side is not easy to do, but it is important to do in order for them to gain confidence. You know, I think, in regard to — as we think about the feed business and as we try to bring new ideas and new innovation to our customers, I think we need to, again, consider maybe what we talked about in the last question. (We need to) consider that there are people on the front end that are more willing to try it and maybe identifying some of those people as, potentially, a resource down the road for the rest of the industry.
We also need to be considerate (about the fact) that it takes time for these very traditional ranch businesses to gain that confidence. And so, I think it's up to us that, if we have good research, if we have good information, we have confidence that the innovation we're presenting is something that can be impactful to a ranching operation, that we kind of stay the course. We stick with it. And so, (there are) a couple different perspectives to look at there. But again, I think (there’s) a lot of opportunity for our ranching friends out there.
Announcer: So, it's really key to kind of calibrate expectations. Right?
Tyler: I think for sure. I mean, it is. You know, we see a lot of promises being made in the marketplace, and that promise may be made from different types of information. Again, you know, I think, if you look at the pharmaceutical side of our business, they have a lot more information in terms of data over large numbers of animals. And again, that becomes easier to do on our side of things. We try to work with universities that can conduct controlled research and have a really strong foundation for the recommendations that we make. But again, we need to step back from year to year and understand that, sometimes, Mother Nature plays her hand as well.
Announcer: That’s Tyler Melroe, beef nutritionist at Hubbard Feeds. Thanks, Tyler.
Tyler: Thank you.
Announcer: I am Tom Martin, and thanks for listening.
Announcer: Thank you for joining us for the Block Talk podcast. Learn more about all that Crystalyx has to offer by going to www.crystalyx.com. It all adds up to results by the barrel.