The single greatest advantage a cow-calf operation has over other livestock production systems is the ability of a cow (and her calf) to graze and harvest forages in places you cannot plant corn. While ruminants “may” contribute somewhere between 5% and 8% of all greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, their unique ability to turn most any forage on the planet into usable human nourishment ensures a bright future for the beef industry around the world.
While we can formulate, mix and deliver a highly specialized diet to a steer in a feedlot every day, likely formulated by a consulting nutritionist out to 4 decimal places, this level of precision is usually somewhere between unfeasible and impossible for most cow-calf operations. A cow is returning the most money when she is grazing your lowest cost feed, that being un-harvested, stockpiled forage on range or pasture. The next cheapest source is usually harvested forage. The more days in a year that you do not have to start a tractor or drive a pick-up to supplement or feed your cow herd, the more profitable you should be.
So, where does this leave us? It is only logical for cattlemen to take advantage of their cow’s single greatest advantage over other species of livestock to maximize their profitability. This will no doubt result in their cattle being a long way from a feed bunk, a mixing wagon and the perfectly balanced diet. Yet, forages can be deficient in several nutrients critical to optimum beef production. Clearly, supplementation would benefit the cow and increase returns to the owner. While we could calculate the supplemental nutrition needed using the latest and greatest ration models, and deliver it on a daily basis, we may find that plan to be, again, somewhere between unfeasible and impossible. A large cow-calf operation with several hundred cows spread across several ranches cannot possibly mix and deliver diets or supplements with feedlot precision on a daily basis. Similarly, a smaller cattleman may not have the equipment or the time to do the same for a smaller herd, which may not be the primary source of income for the family.
Both of these operations arrive at the same question. “What can I use to supplement my cows, that is effective, feasible, and most importantly, something I can do without buying feed bunks and scale operated mixing wagons?” For many cattlemen, the answer is a self-fed supplement that minimizes the input costs of equipment, labor and time. Many self-fed supplements will do all of this, while still being effective in supplying deficient nutrients and returning the herd to greater profitability by more efficiently using their cheapest feed source.
For more information on how self-fed supplements increase the utilization of your forage, visit www.crystalyx.com.
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