Demand for Crystalyx Extra High Energy Feed Buckets Continues to Grow Throughout Ireland

Increasing numbers of flockowners across the island of Ireland are regularly using Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed tubs to ensure that body condition is fully maintained on ewes in the run-up to lambing.

In tandem with this trend is a matching recognition that this unique source of supplementary nutrition can be used to boost ovulation rates, pre mating.

Liam Strain runs a large flock of March lambing ewes, near Burnfoot in Co Donegal. The bulk of the breeding are Mules and Suffolk: Cheviot crosses. Approximately 100 purebred Cheviots are included within the flock, to allow the breeding of all the replacements needed by Liam.

All the lambs born on the farm are brought to finishing weights or maintained as replacements.

Surplus ewe lambs are sold-on during the autumn period.

Left: Liam-Strain-(farmer) middle: Luke Morgan (Crystalyx) right: John-Hegarty- Inishowen-Co-Op

“We normally lamb 90 ewes at the end of January,” Liam explained.

“All the other breeding sheep will follow-on six weeks later. The remainder of the flock are due to start lambing on March 10th this year.

Making best use of grazed grass is a priority for Liam. But he recognises that forage alone will not meet the nutritional needs of his ewes in the run-up to lambing.

“We have put the Crystalyx Extra High Energy blocks out with the pre-lambing ewes for the past number of years.

“And it’s an approach that has worked well in keeping a good level of body condition on the ewes at a very important time of the year.

“I also like the fact that the buckets are very weather resistant. They offer the sheep a consistent level of nutrition.”

Jonathan McGee farms at Kincraigy, Manorcunningham in Co Donegal. His 155 spring lambing flock comprises a mix of Mule and Borris (Suffolk x Cheviot) ewes. He is an active member of the Donegal Mule Group.

Ease of management and making best use of grazed grass are management priorities for the flock. All lambs born are either maintained for breeding or brought through to finishing weights. Surplus Mule ewe lambs are sold as flock breeding replacements.

Last year McGee flock achieved an overall lambing rate of 180%.

Left: Jonathan McGee (farmer) middle: Cheree McGlynn (Aurivo) right: Luke Morgan (Crystalyx)

Jonathan commented

“High Energy feed blocks are put out with the ewes prior to breeding. This has been the practice on the farm for the past number of years.

“The ewes need that extra nutritional boost before the rams go in. At that stage it’s all about retaining body condition and boosting ovulation rates.

“The subsequent lambing rates that we are getting speak for themselves.”

Seán Malone and his son John farm at Ballinacarbeg, near Roundwood in Co Wicklow.

Their sheep flock comprises 400 Suffolk x Cheviot ewes and 200 hoggets. Half the hoggets are sold as breeding replacements to other flockowners. All other lambs are finished on the farm.

Lambing this year will get underway on March 25th. The Malones use Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed buckets to maintain the body condition score of the ewes prior to lambing.

Left: Ciaran Murphy (Quinns of Baltinglass) middle: Seán Malone (farmer) right David Morgan (Crystalyx)

“But more than that, we keep the ewes carrying single lambs out at grass right through to lambing with the feed blocks as the only source of additional feed available to them,” Seán commented.

“We have consistently used the Crystalyx blocks with the sheep for the past seven years. They have worked tremendously well for us.”

Farm merchants throughout Ireland are confirming the popularity of the High Energy feed blocks.

“They are our strongest seller into the sheep sector by far,” confirmed John Hegarty, from Inishowen Co-op.

“The buckets represent a valuable feed source. And they can be put out in all weathers. The blocks do not fragment if the rain starts falling. Many farmers coming into our stores are very aware of this and actively seek out the buckets on that basis.

Ciaran Murphy is a technical sales representative with Quinn’s of Baltinglass.

“The Crystalyx Extra High Energy block is extremely popular with sheep farmers throughout our catchment area,” he said.

“The Wicklow SUAS project, which was launched in 2018, grant aided the use of sheep licks.

“Sales of the Crystalyx blocks strengthened on the back of this.

“The SUAS scheme has ended, yet demand for the Crystalyx licks continues to grow. I think this says a lot for the positive impact that they have made on large numbers of farms.”

Cheree McGlynn is a technical sales representative, working out of the Aurivio: Homeland store in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

“Sales of the Crystalyx High Energy block continue to grow,” she said.

“Demand for the licks in the run-up to the spring lambing season is particularly strong. Farmers recognise the very real feed benefits that they deliver.

“The blocks also represent a very flexible way of delivering a much-needed nutritional boost to ewes at those important times of the year.”

According to Luke Morgan, from Crystalyx, that the number of sheep producers using Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed blocks continues to increase at an exponential rate throughout Ireland

Driving this trend is the growing recognition on the part of flock owners that these unique supplementary feed sources act to maintain body condition on ewes in the run-up to lambing.

Luke further explained:

“The core challenge facing ewes under current circumstances is that of maximising forage intakes,” he explained.

“This is the key to allowing them secure the dry matter levels they need to meet their own nutritional needs and those of the lambs they are carrying.

“And it is in this context that the Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed blocks for sheep can play a crucial role.

“They represent a highly palatable and concentrated form of energy, high quality protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins, acting to improve the efficiency of the rumen.

“At the very heart of this process is the stimulus given to the microbe populations in the rumen. In turn this speeds up the digestion process, thereby allowing ewes to increase their daily consumption levels of fresh grass. And this, of course, determines overall dry matter intakes.”

Luke explained that ewes must be kept in top condition in the run-up to lambing.

“Loss of condition while pregnant will jeopardise placental development and reduce body reserves available for colostrum and milk production,” he said.

“Trials conducted at Newcastle University found that ewes with access to Crystalyx Extra High Energy maintained better condition than ewes on grass alone, and their lambs subsequently had a 5% higher growth rate.

“Offering the High Energy tubs to ewes now will also have a very beneficial impact on the quality of the ewes’ milk post lambing. This reflects the quality of the protein contained within the feed blocks.

He concluded:

“Crystalyx Extra High Energy is a feed block that can be used all year round to provide supplementation for ewes, rams and lambs. High in protein, energy and with a full complement of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, Crystalyx Extra High Energy and forage can be all that’s required to operate a highly effective and profitable sheep rearing system.

“A daily Extra High Energy feeding rate of 40-60g head will ensure that pre lambing ewes receive the level of nutrition they need, provided that adequate levels of forage are also made available.

“Moreover, the product has been proven on Irish sheep farms over many years.”