Spring has sprung

Mar 28, 2024

The temperatures are getting warmer, the days are longer, and the grass is turning green. Brayden Hawkins and Harrison Smith discuss the spring mineral needs of cattle, cattle markets, and fly control.


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Welcome to Beyond the Barrel, brought to you by Crystalyx Brand Supplements.  An easy way to provide self-fed protein, trace minerals and vitamins in a low-moisture block supplement. Formulated for all types of feeding situations, from low-quality forages to fly control and everything in between. It all adds up to results by The Barrel.

Brayden: Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Brayden Hawkins and today we’re joined by the world-famous Harrison Smith.  Harrison, I think in all of our years of working together we've never recorded a podcast with each other.  So, before we dive into today's discussion, maybe take a second to introduce yourself and then I'll do the same thing afterwards.

Harrison: Perfect.  Well, thank you, Brayden. I don't know if World Famous is exactly correct, but I'll take the recognition there. So Harrison Smith, I'm from Gatesville, Texas. I'm an account manager for Crystalyx and Ridley Block Operations in Central Texas. Been with the company for a few years now. And I think I'm going on year four starting in May.

 So it's been a great ride. I'm looking forward to many more years with the organization.

Brayden: Yeah, Harrison.  And if you don't mind maybe giving a little bit of background too on your personal kind of experience in the cattle business. You know, your passion for cattle and doesn't stop with your day job.  So shed a little light on that if you don't mind.

Harrison: Absolutely. Yes. So really, when I was a 4H member, my family purchased me some Herford females when I was seven years old,  and that kind of lit the fire for me not only in the cattle industry, but agriculture as a whole.

And so now, after completing college and starting this career with Ridley, I continue to raise Herford females, particularly we focus on raising show heifers, but we also believe that to have a good show female, we probably need to have good bull mate brothers, so we still sell a handful of commercial bulls as well there at the house and so that's what I do in my free time if we have a lot of it is really working on looking at the Herford cattle that we have around there and thinking on ways to improve them.

Brayden: Very nice and I like how you said completing college I would want to mention that I'm an Aggie either so we'll leave that there. Now I'll take a second to introduce myself as well.  Like I kind of kicked off, my name is Brayden Hawkins. I'm a sales manager for Ridley Block Operations and Crystalyx in kind of the Southern US. Only live about an hour up the road from Harrison in Hillsborough, so we're both kind of Central Texas boys, but we're both fortunate to be to travel all over the country and see a lot of different operations. And like Harrison, run a few cows. You know, in our personal life as well my wife and my daughter and I run some registered Angus and have some commercial cattle so for both of us our livelihoods and then our passions revolve around the cattle business and so that's why Harrison I think that this podcast is probably going to be an extension of one of our countless phone calls over the last four or five years.

I think it's just going to be talking about the weather the markets and cows and I don't know if there's anything I'd rather discuss with you. So I guess from there, I'll kick it off and just talk a little bit about how that mild it's been all winter, because I think it kind of sets the stage for some relevant things that we're going to discuss. But heck down here, I know we had a 90 degree day in February and green grass coming out of our ears right now. So  I  don't  know  what  you're  seeing,  but  I  imagine  it's  a  lot  of  the  same. 

Harrison: Oh, absolutely. absolutely. And I always kind of gauge it by how long, I guess, the big jacket stay in my closet. And I don't even know if we brought them out this year. It's been like not even a winter that we  had,  honestly,  it  was  quick  and  fast.  I  guess  we  had  that  one  little  cold  stretch  there  in  January, but I just got done writing  that  fly  blog.  And I kid you not, I saw flies when we were feeding that group of show heifers February 18th. Starting off and I feel like it just really gets earlier and earlier every year and the spring really kind of hit us hard and fast already.

Brayden: No doubt, and you know even talking with some of our counterparts up north where they actually get a real winner on a normal year, I mean people in Minnesota, Wyoming, the Dakotas are talking about 60, 70 degree days this time of year, no snow on the ground which from what I can tell is pretty unheard of up in the that part of the world. So it seems like fairly consistently, it's been a really mild winter and with that, it's been an early transition out of a lot of our protein supplements, which is what most people associate products like Crystalyx with supplementing low quality forage.

But I think with such a mild winter, it's good to talk about as we transition out of feed and season, you know what we traditionally think of is feeding season into the spring, you know, how low-moisture blocks and Crystalyx might be just as relevant  now. You know, this time of year when the grass is green and, you know, we're not necessarily supplementing for protein as it ever is.

Harrison: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Everybody always thinks, you know, you need a barrel in the wintertime when we need to get a little bit more protein in these cattle, but we make so many different mineral skus and it's really nice to have those in our arsenal, especially this spring. When we start talking about mineral and its importance, it's extremely important, and we could spend a whole 'nother podcast talking about the different benefits that you get from supplementing mineral, but the one thing that we don't really talk about enough is, doesn't  matter if the cattle don't eat it, and the palatability of the Crystalyx offers. Really helps drive that intake to make sure that we're feeding a good mineral and the cattle are getting the most bang for our buck there.

Brayden: Yeah, that reminds me of some research studies that Crystalyx did she probably 20 years ago now is for either one of our times. But I think it's pretty telling just in terms of the added consumption and consistency of consumption of a low-moisture block supplement versus just about anything else. So thank you. They put GPS tracking collars on a group of cows that had access to a Crystalyx low-moisture  block in  a group that had access to conventional or traditional loose mineral, and it wasn't like 95 % of those cows which visited  low-moisture  block  supplement,  and  only  like  63 %  or  65 %  went  and  visited  loose  mineral. And not only does that tell you that we have the advantage in terms of delivering the nutrition that's in there, but when you peel that back a layer and think about all the different additives that people typically look to their mineral program to provide. If a third of your cow is throwing eaten the loose mineral, that's got to say your fly control. And if you mentioned just a second ago, I mean, a third of the manure is not getting treated. And, you know, might be why people don't get some of the results they'd like to on fly controls in a loose mineral. And I think that that supplementing with a low -moisture block solves a lot of those problems. 

Harrison: Oh yeah, and I can think of in my career short tenure, I guess you could say, but for years we make a really popular block that Mineral-lyx with Clarifly. It's done a great job, the cattle consume it well and I can't think of a complaint that we've had when customers say  "oh  man we  still have really bad flies" when they've got one of those blocks out. And I  think that goes to the fact that the cattle consume it so well, but we kind of just got done talking about, I wrote that fly blog and we mentioned it  earlier.

One thing I wanted to just quickly hit on was some of the numbers and the reasons why fly control is so important there. And actually, I  pulled these off of and I'm reading it off of our Cattle Call. Brayden, do you know that maybe we should talk about the Cattle  Call or discuss a little bit on how producers can sign up for it? 

Brayden: Yeah, absolutely. Jumping around a  little  bit, you  know,  I think that's a pretty good example of what one of our normal conversations, but it all ties back like I started with the cows, the markets and cattle. But yeah, so the Cattle Call  is something that Crystalyx has done for a long, long time in terms of, you know, just as a way to reach out and, you know, give back to our end user customers. So twice a year, typically in the spring and in the fall, we send out coupons.

And, you know, they're typically for $10 a barrel off. I think there's two of them that come in our normal Cattle Call mailer. But with the coupons is a nice kind of write up on kind of the seasonally relevant things that, you know, we're looking to accomplish with our products. And I think that's kind of where you're getting a lot of this information on.  Fly  control, obviously, right now with the green up and the temperature swinging, flies are becoming more of an issue. And Harrison, you said you had some numbers. I think those are important to share because if I'm thinking of the same ones you are, they're pretty considerable. 

Harrison: Yeah, absolutely. And like I said, I'm reading this straight off of our cattle call flyer there. And it's a great tool to have for producers 'cause not only does it give you knowledge, like  you said, Brayden, but also gives you a couple of kids. coupons to utilize when you purchase maybe these mineral LMBs this spring. The  most eye -catching one to  me is $1 .5  billion. That is the estimated industry-wide loss annually from flies. Another really big and kind of one that you gravitate towards is 15 .8%. That is what research revealed cattle fed the through fly control gain more than their contemporaries who were on no fly controls out there in the pasture. So, if you could get 15 .8 % more weight on your calves, that is going to be extremely, extremely profitable  for you this  spring and going into the summer and fall months there. And finally, just  13 to one. That is what the historic ROI for a cow-calf operation that utilizes a fly control is, right?  And so, I think those numbers there are really, really eye-opening to the economic impact that flies just have on the agriculture industry as a whole.

Brayden: Yep. Couldn't agree more, Harrison. And something else that you think about for a lot of people right now is calving season. And a lot of the time, the first place you'll see flies pop up is on these cow's udders. I know there's a lot of research out there on mastitis caused by flies. It's one of those deals where I was developing some heifers last year and would have loved to keep a couple of them back, but I might not have done the best job of keeping a fly control supplement out. Pretty much ruined the teats on a few of those heifers. If you're milking some calves right now with as good as this cattle market is, and you know those cows teats are all ate up with fly bites and swollen up and you know, they get mastitis. That's a pretty big hit to the bottom line there.  So there's a lot of you know, additional consequences outside of just the loss of performance. You can't afford to lose a heifer in  this, you know with where this cattle markets going and you know you can't afford for your cow's bags to go bad, you know this year when there's you know, every incentive in the world to put as many pounds on these calves as possible.  

Harrison:  Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think the incentive right now is because of these cattle markets that we're seeing. It is pretty amazing some of the prices that consistently are just popping up. What is it? There's five weeks in a row where we've seen all-time highs on the cattle market in  our  area  there. 

Brayden: And  that  feeder  calf  market  is  going  crazy.  I  think  I  saw  that  there  on  the  CattleFax  blog  that  we  get  that,  yeah,  it's  hit  all -time  high,  it's  five  weeks  in  a  row,  and  that's  saying  something.  Fundamentally  speaking,  there's  no  reason  this  deal  should  slow  down  unless  demand  just  hits  a  wall I  mean,  I  think  it  might  back  off  a  little  bit  just  because  the  supply's  so  off,  but  for  the  most  part,  the  fundamentals  are  strong  to  see  an  elevated  calf  market  simply  because  the  supply  side's  so  short  for  another  couple  years is  what  they're  calling  for  and  both  of  us  have  a  cattle  and  we  sure  hope  so  and  we  hope  the  same  for  our  customers  as  well.  It's  been  pretty  slim  there  for  the  last  however  many  years  and  to  see  some  light  at  the  end  of  the  tunnels  is  sure  nice  for  our  cow -calf  customers.

Harrison: Oh,  yeah.  No,  I  think  it's  one  of  the  first  times  in  a  few  years  that  people  have  a  big  smile  on  their  face  right  when  they're  taking  cattle  to  the  auction  barn  when  when  they're  getting  ready  to  sell  their  calves  right  because  they  know, 2024,  we've  got  a  really  nice  payday  coming  in  so  that's  been  extremely  exciting  and  I  guess  a  lot  of  people  right  if  you  guys  are  fall  cavers  like  myself.  You've  maybe  already  when  your  calves  are  getting  ready  to  sell  them  right  now  but  some  people. They're  just  right  in  the  heat  of  calving  season  right  now  right  and  I  think  it's  a  really  important.  time  to  make  sure  that  we're  keeping  all  the  nutritional  requirements  for  our  cattle  in  mind  and  not  just  trying  to  make  more  money  because  we're  making  more  money  and  not  putting  as  much  input  into  our  cattle.

Brayden: Yeah,  absolutely.  I  mean,  that's  one  of  those  deals.  A  lot  of  people  supplemented  and  fed  cows  through  the  hard  times.  And  fortunately,  you  know,  feed  costs  have  kind  of  leveled  out  a  little  bit.  The  cost  of  supplements  not  rising  near  the  clip  it  was  and  you  know  cattle  markets  just  keep  getting  stronger  and  stronger. So  you  know  the  value  of  that  supplement  just  keeps  getting  higher  and  higher  as  the  cost  of  the  supplement  itself  plateaus  and  the  cattle  value  just  continues  to  rise.  I  was  talking  to  our  other  counterpart  Will  Gibson  there  yesterday  on  the  phone  and  he  said  there  are  some  trades  made  on  some  five  and  eight  steers  there  in  Mississippi  of  all  all  places  at  over  $3  a  head  yesterday. So  I  think  that's  a  pretty  good  indication  where  this  thing's  at  and  again  I  don't  see  any  reason  it'll  slow  down  but  I  think  you  hit  the  nail  on  the  head  hairs  in  terms  of  nutrition  this  year  being  as  as  instrumental  is  recognized  to  recognizing  some  of  the  value  of  these  cattle  is  there  ever  has  been.

Harrison: No, yeah, and  I  think  like  we  kind  of  mentioned  we've  got  a  whole  big  arsenal  of  Crystalyx products  that  you  don't  just  have  to  utilize  during  the  winter.  Like  we  said,  this  spring,  those  mineral  barrels  that  we  have, like  the  mineral  licks  or  the  blueprint  6 %  FOS  are  some  really  good  options.  But  we  also  have  a  really  unique  one,  like  that  blueprint  25 all-in-one. That's got a little bit of protein. It's got a good mineral and vitamin pack.  Plus it's got Bio-Mos in it for gut health,  which can be really beneficial as well during calving season. So  just a really unique product there to have.

Brayden: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, they're calling that  this  weather  pattern  might  shift  back  to  get  a  little  droughtier.  And  it's  always  important  to  remember,  too,  that  it's  not  uncommon,  especially  in  some  of  these  drier  parts  of  the  Southwestern  United  States  or  Western  United  States, where  you  have  to  start  protein  supplementation  maybe  at  the  tail  end  of  summer  or  early  in  the  summer.  Even if it really turns up dry to where the there's still flies, but you're having to help that forage by providing, kind of bridging the gap in quality. So, we do have plenty of products that are protein with fly control options as well if that happens to be the case this summer. Hopefully the meteorologists are wrong, but it seems like they're usually right about the bad stuff and wrong about the good stuff. Kind of not counting on that one this year. 

Harrison: Yeah unfortunately I think what they said the good season was going to be a little shorter than they expected and we're going to get into a La Nina faster than maybe we were wanting to but I guess that's kind of what they're calling to happen uh, earlier this summer, aren't  they?

Brayden: Yeah, yeah El Nino should, you know, it  looks like it might be fading a little quicker than any of us hoped for. But hey, not everything can be hunky dory in the cow business. We've got good calf prices. So kind of imagine there's got to be some challenges thrown our way and being resilient. The reason we do it. 

Harrison: Oh, absolutely. And right now it's green and beautiful and everybody seems happy. But I think it's always best to prepare and plan. I'm one of those kind of guys who prepares for the worst and I'm smiling big when the best happens. 

Brayden: That's right, that's right. Well, the mental image of you  smiling  big,  I  think is a good place to leave this on Harrison. How about that? 

Harrison: Yeah, I think so, I think so. So I look forward to, or,  enjoyed visiting with you on this, Brayden, and looking forward to doing it again.  

Brayden: Yeah, definitely. It was fun, enjoyed it, and we'll talk to you next time. Appreciate everybody for tuning in, and thanks again for joining us and support in the Crystalyx brand. 

Thank  you  for  joining  us  for  the  Beyond  the  Barrel  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.