The Real Value of CRYSTALYX® – It Goes
Beyond Price and the Price of Alternative Feeding Methods

By Jon Albro | Dec 03, 2013 03:44 pm

Several recent
blogs have mentioned the fundamental values of CRYSTALYX®
supplementation. Topics on the value of getting cattle in better shape
for winter, utilizing forages more effectively and efficiently, calf weaning
and health, and raising replacement heifers. Supplementation definitely
pays, more so now than ever with the value of feeder, fat, and replacement
I think the key
word here is supplement, and the value it brings. The word
supplement itself may have a negative connotation or be viewed as a tax we
pay for having livestock. Some may think of it this way but if we
really want to maximize our returns, we use tools to help us make a dollar go
further or to make more dollars. So in essence, a supplement (like
CRYSTALYX®) is a tool to make what we have (a feedstuff base) work better.
Almost Opposite of 2012

The above
heading is true when comparing several commodity prices this year versus
last. This years’ corn crop is estimated by USDA numbers to hit
nearly 14 billion bushels, a record. Corn prices and many other
commodities have slid south as corn alone is trading at about 40% of where it
was a year ago. A lower corn price definitely favors the cattle feeder, the
ethanol producer and export demand. Cheaper corn and other commodity
ingredients may beg the question of how well CRYSTALYX® will pencil in a year
when corn is not $7.00 and hay is not $200 a ton, and when a lot of other
supplement programs cost less per ton too.
Really in a Lick of CRYSTALYX®?

Many of us have
been trained to evaluate supplement cost on nutritive values alone.
This is important but should only be part of the evaluation. For
example, if we only evaluate the cost per unit of protein or other nutrient,
we can often trick ourselves into using a feedstuff or commodity that really
doesn’t fit our management, may lack some other key nutrients, or may wind up
costing us more in other areas such as labor or equipment. The concept
of estimating supplement value based only on cost of specific nutrient is
over recommended.
Let’s take the
CRYSTALYX® product BGF-30™ as an example: The 30 stands for
the crude protein content. This product may cost 30-40 cents per
cow per day to feed in a fall/winter grazing or feeding situation, and for
that we get 30% protein but we also get:
  1. A
    vitamin and mineral component, one that delivers the maintenance levels
    in beef cows. Other formulas, such as those in the CRYSTALYX®
    Breed Up™ product line offer even higher levels. CRYSTALYX®, in
    many ways, is a complete supplement program. You don’t get this in
    a pound of soybean meal or distillers grain.
  2. Self-fed
    or hands-off feeding that requires minimal equipment and minimal labor.
    When a commodity is cheap, it often costs as much to feed and store it
    as it does for the product itself. Not everyone is set up to feed
    commodities the right way.
  3. A
    grazing distribution tool to manage where cattle spend more time grazing
    by where you place the CRYSTALYX® barrels.
These are just
a few of the extra value measures CRYSTALYX® provides beyond the “cost per
level of nutrient” evaluation.
This Year vs. Last Year

So corn is off
40% and a lot of feeds cost less, and the cattle market is strong – all good
news for the cow-calf producer. Feed supplement demand is down this
year in many areas compared to 2012 simply due to better forage, range &
pasture conditions. How does CRYSTALYX® compare this year to last from
an economic standpoint? CRYSTALYX® still provides all the same
benefits (as mentioned above) no matter the year. Its true cost,
delivered to the cow
is much more stable than many competing
supplementation methods. The true cost of CRYSTALYX® supplementation
can withstand ingredient price volatility much better than supplements fed at
higher levels. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of value in utilizing lower
priced commodity ingredients in a lot of rations and these lower prices are
definitely welcomed.
The example
below is a graph calculated from Crystal Clear Economics®. This is a program
we’ve had available for years and I still find it useful in evaluating the
true cost of supplementation and to compare CRYSTALYX® to other supplements
that have large ups or downs in cost. The message conveyed
here is to again illustrate that CRYSTALYX® brings value and fits as
competitively in a feed market that is falling (this year) as in a market
that is rising (last year).

analysis for 100 cows fed 100 days at varying supplement costs per ton

Green shaded areas illustrate cost per head per day based on price per ton
only. Pink shaded areas illustrate an estimated delivery cost for 1.5
hours of labor and equipment use where CRYSTALYX® is fed once per 14 days and
other supplements are fed every other day.

Thanksgiving was last week and we
do have a much to be thankful for in our business. The cattle market remains
strong (20% higher for feeder cattle vs. last November), pasture and forage
conditions have improved, and feed cost are generally down. It’s a good
time to be in the cattle business and still a good time to incorporate CRYSTALYX®
into your supplement program. Learn more about CRYSTALYX® at
and download a free copy of Crystal Clear Economics®.
Jon Albro
Jon Albro