Can CRYSTAL-PHOS® be a more cost-effective supplement than dry mineral, even with lush summer forage available? A group of ranchers, with the help of a local CRYSTALYX® dealer, decided to find out.
A western South Dakota CRYSTALYX® dealer had a group of ranchers as customers that were part of a grazing association. They were running their co-mingled cattle on national grasslands. A dry mineral supplier approached the ranchers with a proposal. They were told they could supplement with dry mineral at a cost of no more than five cents per-head, per-day. The supplier would put out two weeks of mineral and only re-supply every two weeks. The ranchers quickly realized that a limit on how much mineral was delivered could be a problem. If the supply is consumed in a week, the cattle would be without mineral for another week until it was restocked.
The CRYSTALYX® dealer had a better idea. Because of his own experience with CRYSTAL-PHOS,® he recommended it to the grazing association. Past experience in his area projected CRYSTAL-PHOS® intake to be around two ounces per-head, per-day on green grass.
“CRYSTAL-PHOS® is formulated for an intake of a quarter pound in fall and winter when forage is dry and brown and the cattle need more nutrients,” said Mark Robbins, Research Manager for Ridley Block Operations. “In the summertime when forage is lush, you’ll likely see about an eighth of a pound or a two ounce intake. In the summer, when the grass gets green and things get warmer, it’s difficult to keep the animals on a mineral supplement. We generally see a lower intake of CRYSTAL-PHOS® in the summer, but cattle still consume it at acceptable levels.”
The dealer told the grazing association they could have a summer supplementation program using CRYSTAL-PHOS® at a cost of approximately five cents per-head, per-day. Better still, the supplement would be continuously available, and the barrels could be used to better manage grazing patterns by moving the cattle around in the pasture.
As the ranchers in the association learned over the summer, that is exactly what happened.
The demonstration tracked 1,308 head of cattle in three different pastures during a period from June 20th through the end of August. Using a CRYSTAL-PHOS® cost of $830 per ton, the average cost across all pastures and all cattle was 4.7 cents per-head, per-day, and the average consumption was 1.8 ounces per-head, per-day.
“The demonstration showed that in lush summertime conditions, intake will generally be around two ounces per-head, per-day,” Robbins said. “That translates to a cost of less than five cents per-head, per-day.” Robbins added that CRYSTALYX® supplements offer a number of advantages in addition to cost savings:
- Continuous availability
- Contains chelated/organic trace minerals
- Ability to focus grazing within a pasture — makes most efficient use of all the pasture
- Weatherproof (wind and rain)
- No waste
- Highly palatable — cows will consume it
- Eliminates need for expensive, specialized feeders
“As you go through the summer and the grass starts to dry off, you’ll get into a protein deficient situation,” Robbins said. “So then, in addition to CRYSTAL-PHOS®, you should start feeding another CRYSTALYX® product with protein like HE-20™, BGF-30™ or HP-40™.