Modernizing your cowherd mineral program
Article reposted with permission from CRYSTALYX®.
For many, fall calving lies in the near future. Have you considered whether your cowherd’s summer mineral program is up to par? Implementing a proper mineral program is essential, as it can help determine the best way to maintain optimal reproduction with early conception rates while also boosting calf health and growth. We only get one calf per cow per year, so if there are any missteps in meeting our cow reproduction and calf growth goals, it will be a long time before corrections or improvements can be made.
During the late summer and into the early fall, forage quality is declining as the cow’s requirements are increasing for fall calving. Delivering minerals during this time is crucial in order to produce a healthy calf and ensure that the cow has what she needs to combat any stressors and to rebreed in time. For spring-calving herds, the period when calves are getting pulled and weaned is when the cow’s nutrient requirements are lowest; however, a proper mineral program is still necessary to provide for both the cow and her developing calf throughout the year.
Summer mineral programs
When considering a mineral program, bags and mineral feeders likely spring to mind, as these options have historically been used often and to good results. You may want to consider, however, thinking a little more deeply about some other summer mineral options that could help you stay on top of your herd’s nutrition program without the fuss and potential losses associated with dry granular mineral delivery. For instance, compared to bagged minerals, there are many inherent benefits provided by low-moisture blocks like CRYSTALYX low-moisture block mineral supplements.
Two of the biggest advantages of CRYSTALYX mineral supplements are their palatability and the uniformity of intake they ensure across all cattle within a pasture. Our research has demonstrated that more than 90% of cattle will frequent a CRYSTALYX mineral supplement, versus the roughly 60% of cattle that frequent an area where bagged minerals are available.
It is an undisputable fact that if your cows don’t eat the vitamin/mineral supplement you provide, they will not be able to capitalize on the additional nutritional benefits offered by that supplement. Reaching 30% more cattle within a herd helps ensure that nearly all of your cattle are receiving the added nutrients that encourage optimal performance. This is, without a doubt, the main reason that producers look to CRYSTALYX to help efficiently deliver their summer minerals.
That is certainly not the end of the list of benefits CRYSTALYX supplements can provide. There are a great deal of manufacturing processes and ingredients involved in creating a weatherized, bagged mineral that won’t blow away in the wind, wash down the creek in the rain or simply turn to stone after a downpour. What better weatherproof mineral could you offer than what already comes with CRYSTALYX?
CRYSTALYX low-moisture blocks are unaffected by wind or rain; cattle will simply slurp down any moisture that accumulates on the surface. And what could be more appealing to cows than a good-old consumption-regulated, low-moisture molasses block? There are a host of different intake limiters, encouragers and regulators associated with bagged vitamin/mineral products — but when cows actually want to consume your vitamin/mineral supplement presented in block form, they become unnecessary, as the nutrition is encased in a highly palatable, uniformly blended, dehydrated molasses block that keeps intake in check.
Let’s not forget how the minerals and vitamins are encased in a dehydrated molasses matrix, which is hugely beneficial, as it separates — and virtually eliminates — the reactivity that often exists between minerals and vitamins. Our observations have consistently revealed almost zero vitamin degradation with CRYSTALYX products when measured for up to and even beyond one year. This is certainly not the case with bagged minerals; harmful oxidative reactions begin to take place once the ingredients are mixed together, eventually destroying the vitamin potency.
One thing to remember when managing intake with CRYSTALYX mineral formulations is that the head count per container must be scaled up compared to the protein formulations. Follow the label recommendations, but generally, more cows per container — such as 40 to 60 head per barrel — should be considered to arrive at a 4-ounce intake. Compare this to our typical recommendation of 20 to 30 head for protein products, which are typically consumed in the 0.5- to 1-pound daily intake range.
Mineral feeders: Who needs them?
Upfront equipment costs are one thing, but continued maintenance expenses are seemingly never-ending. Bulls are always looking for some sort of recreational equipment to rough up, and feeders are common targets. There are plenty of creative feeding methods for providing loose minerals. Some producers make it sort of a puzzle that cows must figure out in order to access the mineral — which can really make you wonder just how many cows are actually courageous or creative enough to put their heads into these feeding stations. CRYSTALYX supplements come with their own container — and if you request that they be provided in the degradable BioBarrel®, you don’t even have to go out and pick them up; they just degrade away into the environment. It doesn’t get much easier or more environmentally responsible than that.
A CRYSTALYX mineral program to fit your needs
If you’re not yet convinced to take a fresh look at how you provide vitamin and mineral supplementation to your cow herd, stop by your nearest CRYSTALYX dealer to get the full scoop on how our mineral products can add value to both your cow herd and calf crop, thereby increasing your operational returns. When technology arrives that can take us light-years ahead, we should adopt it and make it the norm. Providing proper vitamin and mineral delivery on-pasture is as easy as finding the right CRYSTALYX product to meets your cows’ needs.