ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the latest “Block Talk ” podcast, brought to you by CRYSTALYX® Brand supplements. When it comes to beef cattle nutrition, a lot of attention is usually given to minerals. Jon Albro is the Western Region Sales Manager with CRYSTALYX® brand supplements. He says there’s another important part of the supplement picture that needs your attention.
JON: When we talk about supplements in cattle, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is mineral supplements. We talk about a bag of minerals; we talk about mineral nutrition. A lot of the focus, a lot of the attention has been on that over the last couple of decades. But, the vitamins are always part of that supplement program in most cases. But, we don’t always think about them, per se. I mean, they get some attention, but the main focus has always been on minerals, and, more recently the trace minerals.
ANNOUNCER: But that focus has shifted lately to vitamins. So what are the essential vitamins in beef cattle nutrition?
JON: They have a requirement for the same vitamins that you and I would have. However, beef cattle, we really focus on the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D and E for the most part. For most of your beef cow supplements, range supplements, those kind of things, vitamin A, D and E are what you’ll find fortified or supplied additionally in supplements.
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ANNOUNCER: And winter is an especially important time to be thinking about vitamin supplementation. Why is that?
JON: Vitamin A is not necessarily the vitamin itself that’s found in feed, but the precursor to it, beta carotene. In green grass and growing forages, there’s usually an adequate supply of that that is converted to vitamin A in the body. So we really don’t have to worry too much, or shouldn’t have to worry too much about vitamin A…we get into late winter, even towards spring, when a lot of people are calving and vitamin A requirements are going to climb in a cow; be higher, obviously, once she does calve. That vitamin A requirement becomes a little bit more of a factor in the overall diet as we progress through the winter and into calving season.
ANNOUNCER: This year there’s an increased focus on vitamins because of cost?
JON: If anybody has looked at the cost of a bag of minerals that’s fortified with vitamins, or any supplement for that fact, here, in just the last couple of months we’ve noticed a big cost increase in the supply. A lot of that has to do with just the supply of vitamins in general; there is a shortage, a global shortage…are we going to change the way we feed these supplements are we going to change the way we formulate them? All that’s going to be debated. Starting in 2018, I think we’re going to see this conversation get ramped up and talked about a lot more in a lot of circles. It’s already being talked about a lot, basically just because vitamins are going to cost more, so we’re probably going to scrutinize them a lot more.
ANNOUNCER: One solution to that would be to either cut back or cut out vitamin supplementation. Are either of those good choices to make?
JON: We’ve got to be a little bit careful about how we look at that right now…as far as just cutting vitamins out of a program. You know, we talked about it just a minute ago that this time of year, as we approach calving season, those vitamin requirements are going to be higher, especially for vitamins like vitamin A. Our forages are having less available vitamin A…vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin and it can be synthesized by the animals. While we do add it as a supplement because young animals require it more and it’s very important for calcium and phosphorus metabolism. In the wintertime you have less daylight, so there is a little bit more attention there as well. Vitamin E requirements aren’t quite as well established, but there’s a lot of research been done on supplementing vitamin E showing a lot of benefits because of that. All three of those vitamins are more expensive, and there’s going to be a little more scrutiny on all three of them, but most of what I’m talking about is vitamin A.
ANNOUNCER: But there’s good news when it comes to CRYSTALYX delivering the right amounts and kinds of vitamins.
JON: The form of CRYSTALYX or the delivery system of the supplement is very important to keep in mind. It’s a solid supplement. It gets consumed very predictably, and the vitamins in CRYSTALYX are very stable. If you think about what can break down vitamins, sunlight can break it down; oxygen can break it down; exposure to other minerals can break it down. And you really don’t have that in a CRYSTALYX supplement. You’ve got all the nutrients in there, basically entombed inside the supplement. There’s no oxygen, there’s not sunlight, there’s very little moisture in CRYSTALYX. We refer to it as a low moisture molasses block…a lot of supplemental vitamins are added in addition to what may be required, or we may over-formulate for vitamins somewhat, and that’s, a lot of the reason we do that is they’re not so stable in a lot of supplements, or in any feed. They’re just not a stable compound. Often times they might be added at a higher level than what may look like is necessary. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just one way to ensure that we’re still supplying enough vitamins. With the higher costs some of those things might be scrutinized more in the future. Time will tell.
ANNOUNCER: Producers need to manage their costs effectively, but they need to proceed carefully.
JON: One thing I would really caution people to think about when they’re buying supplement is, keep it in perspective. It’s going to be easy to have a little bit of sticker shock maybe when we go buy a bag of mineral or a barrel of CRYSTALYX. It’s the ones that have been most affected by this cost. The nice thing about CRYSTALYX, and the nice thing about vitamins in general is that they’re not a real high percentage of the portion of the diet. So, they’re fed in relatively low amounts. Even if they do move in price, up or down, the impact of that to the overall cost-per-day or cost-per-season is not going to be huge. If you look at a CRYSTALYX product, you might be looking at another three to five, and maybe even more, dollars per-cow in a six-month period. If you look at a pre- and post-calving supplement program and on into breeding. …the take home message really is keep it in perspective what your overall cost is. Remember that the wintertime, especially if you’re feeding low quality forages this time of the year, that’s when vitamins are going to be the most important from a supplementation standpoint. And that the cow’s requirements are starting to climb as we get closer to calving. Keep the costs in perspective and be confident in CRYSTALYX. It’s going to work for you.
ANNOUNCER: That’s it for this Block Talk Podcast brought to you by CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements an easy way to provide self-fed protein, vitamins and trace minerals in a low moisture supplement formulated for all types of feeding situations from low quality forages to fly control and everything in between. Learn more about all that CRYSTALYX has to offer by going to www.crystalyx.com. It all adds up to Results by the Barrel.