It’s that time of the year, when we turn our attention away from hay production to hay utilization. This year hay utilization is more important to the producer than ever before. With ingredient prices at all-time highs and increasing energy costs, we are expecting a higher than average feed supplementation cost this feeding season. Most producers are also experiencing a reduced hay crop this year.
Let’s consider an option proven to increase hay utilization and provide needed nutrients that is economically friendly to the producer. CRYSTALYX®, the original low-moisture supplement block, is highly palatable, with controlled average intake of .75 pounds per head per day. The product comes in a durable steel barrel or the new biodegradable BioBarrel™ made of soybean flour and straw. CRYSTALYX® is research-proven and will provide nutrients and increased forage utilization at a cost of less than 30 cents per head per day.
Numerous research trials prove controlled, consistent intake of CRYSTALYX® resulted in improved forage utilization, improved body condition, improved grazing patterns, and increased reproductive and growth performance when compared to cattle being fed hay alone.
Research at Kansas State University showed an improvement of 10% in fiber digestibility and forage intake when cattle were supplemented with CRYSTALYX®. This increase helps improve the substantial benefits of supplemental protein by extracting more energy and nutrients from the forage, in addition to increasing forage intake up to 10% per day to provide additional nutrients.
What is the economic benefit of increased forage utilization? An 1,100-pound dry cow consuming 22 pounds of average-quality hay (10% protein, 50 % TDN) will receive 2.2 pounds of protein and 11 pounds of energy from this hay daily. The 10% increase in utilization will provide an additional .22 pounds of protein and 1.1 pounds of energy. The cow will also receive an additional .225 pounds of protein and .5 pounds of energy from the intake of the CRYSTALYX® supplement alone. When you add all of this together, the use of CRYSTALYX® provides your cattle with .445 pounds of additional protein and 1.6 pounds of additional energy over cattle consuming hay alone.
These extra nutrients will directly affect body condition scores, reproductive performance and milk production in your cattle herd. And all of these benefits at a cost of less than .30 cents per head per day makes CRYSTALYX® a very attractive way to supplement your cattle herd this winter.
When you compare this to the use of soyhulls, it is even easier to see why CRYSTALYX® should be your supplement choice. It would take 4.5 pounds of soyhulls per head per day to provide you with the same amount of protein and energy you will get out of hay and CRYSTALYX® supplement. With the cost of soy hulls at $160 a ton (.8 cents per pound), it would cost you .36 cents per head per day (4.5 pounds of soyhulls X .8 cents a pound = .36 cents per day) to get the same amount of protein and energy received from hay and CRYSTALYX®. Plus you will spend an additional 5 cents per head per day to provide a complete mineral supplement to your cattle for a total cost of .41 cents per head per day with the use of soyhulls.
CRYSTALYX® provides a mineral and vitamin supplement in a package cattle will consume on a consistent basis. Minerals and vitamins play an important role in animal health, growth, immunity and reproductive performance. Research at Montana State University has shown 97% of cattle will consume CRYSTALYX® on a consistent basis while only 63% of cattle will consume dry minerals on a consistent basis. Making sure cattle consume the mineral is much more important to the producer than just providing the mineral. If the cow will not consume the product, then the animal cannot realize the benefit of the mineral. With CRYSTALYX® you will be assured your cattle are getting the minerals and vitamins they need on a daily basis.
Using CRYSTALYX® as a part of your winter feeding program will provide nutrition to your cattle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not have to worry about nutrition being available to your cattle on a daily basis no matter the temperature or weather conditions, Nor do you have to be concerned about aggressive cows pushing timid cows away from the feed trough. This product will be available to all of your cattle.
There are other benefits of using a low-moisture block supplement. Strategic placement of CRYSTALYX® helps to first attract and then hold cattle in certain grazing areas. This will help cattle better consume and utilize mature forages in under-grazed areas of pastures and in turn will enhance the utilization of these lower quality-forages.
CRYSTALYX® is produced under the highest of quality guidelines assuring you the product is dependable, consistent, safe and of the highest quality nutrition available to you as a producer. CRYSTALYX® supplements come in a wide range of formulas to guarantee a product that is ideal for your specific operation.
CRYSTALYX® is available to you exclusively at your local Quality Co-op. They will have an opportunity to lock in a price on these supplements over the next few weeks. With the ever-changing ingredient market that continues to increase, this would be good time to visit your local Co-op and discuss booking your CRYSTALYX® supplements for the complete winter-feeding season. This will provide stability in your feed cost as prices might increase through the winter.
Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist.