Novus Launches C.O.W.S. Program
Source: Novus International, Inc.
Novus International, Inc., is introducing an innovative program to help dairy producers enhance the comfort and well-being of their herds so they can better maximize productivity and enrich dairy industry sustainability.
"While dairy producers have been the model of efficiency and productivity over the past six decades the industry is under increasing pressure to produce more high-quality output with fewer inputs. With a growing world population, more improvements are vital to the continued success of the industry," says Stephanie Gable, Novus Global Marketing Manager, Ruminants.
"C.O.W.S. is an exclusive program that has been tested to work. We are confident it will help our dairy customers – and the industry as a whole – achieve even greater levels of efficiency and productivity that will enhance overall sustainability.”
C.O.W.S. stands for Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-Being and Sustainability. Each of these four key pillars of the program play an integral role in the objective, systematic approach Novus takes in helping dairy producers evaluate the major factors that impact productive efficiency.
"Overall comfort is critical to health and productivity. Housing plays a key role, but comfort and oxidative balance are closely linked. Cows stressed by environmental factors can show signs of oxidative stress," says Gable. "The C.O.W.S. program provides perspectives on environmental factors that affect overall comfort, including free-stall design and management, and feeding areas."
According to Gable, oxidative balance – the O in C.O.W.S. – is a linchpin for the other three pillars. Sound nutrition and proper oxidative balance are crucial in keeping cow immunity levels high for optimum health and performance. Oxidative stress can be induced by disease challenges, physiological conditions, environmental conditions and diet.
"Oxidative stress is displayed through a number of costly clinical signs that reduce profitability, from mastitis to reproductive inefficiency," says Gable. "Dealing with that stress requires energy that cows could use for milk production, growth, longevity and overall productivity. A good nutrition program, with an antioxidant, can reduce stress and maintain oxidative balance, negate the effect of dietary fat on rumen microorganisms, and improve milk production and milk fat levels."
Comfort and oxidative balance intertwine with well-being. C.O.W.S. evaluates well-being on the basis of gait scores that measure lameness, hock lesions and body condition scores. Lameness can mean less feed intake, reduced milk production, reproductive inefficiency and early culling.
The final pillar of the C.O.W.S. program is sustainability. Increasing the productive longevity of a herd by enhancing the overall health and well-being of the cows within that herd goes right to the core of improving the sustainability of individual dairy operations and the industry as a whole, says Gable. The C.O.W.S. program can be a valuable management tool to help producers achieve greater levels of productive efficiency and sustainability within their own operations.
"Novus products are geared towards maximizing output and minimizing waste. By leveraging our broad product portfolio, we take a comprehensive approach to optimizing health," says Gable. "We can fortify cows against disease and lengthen their productive lives while also delivering higher quality milk production.”
Dan Meagher, Novus Vice President of the Americas views the C.O.W.S. program as a perfect complement to the company’s vision of helping feed the world affordable, wholesome food.
“Sustainability is a critical cornerstone of our corporate vision,” Meagher says. “The C.O.W.S. program is a shining example of our belief that through innovation, education and collaboration we can not only enhance sustainability but improve quality of life for people around the world.”
The C.O.W.S. program will be offered to individual key Novus customers as a complementary, value-added service. Confidential farm evaluations will be performed by Novus specialists and include:
Cow lying time measured with electronic data loggers;
Gait scores and hock health;
Facility design and management measures that affect cow comfort including bedding frequency, stall dimensions, neck rail placement, feed bunk space and more.
A customized report is provided to each farm, along with benchmarks of other operations in the region, so producers can gauge whether they have problems that should be addressed.
U.S. program benchmarks are currently being established through the evaluation of 140 dairy operations in California, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Texas. The program is based on a recently completed study by the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program that analyzed on-farm cow comfort assessment with 43 free-stall dairies in that province.
Dr. Bob Stoltzfus, with Lancaster Veterinary Associates in Salunga, Pennsylvania, encouraged several of his client dairy farms to participate in the benchmark herd analysis that Novus initiated in the Northeast region in the latter part of 2010.
“We had five farms participate in the C.O.W.S. program, ranging in size from 200 cows to 800 cows. All of the operations had a very positive experience,” Stoltzfus says. “From my point of view cow comfort is crucial both from the perspective of dairy profitability but also from the perspective of animal welfare, which is becoming an increasingly important issue for producers and the industry as a whole.
“The C.O.W.S. program is so valuable because it applies objective, concrete measurements to a range of aspects of cow comfort that have a direct impact on profitability on a dairy farm,” Stoltzfus adds. “The C.O.W.S. program provides producers with information they need to identify bottlenecks in their operations that they can then address to improve their efficiency, productivity and profitability.”
One of Stoltzfus’ customers who experienced the C.O.W.S. program firsthand is Steve Harnish, co-owner of Central Manor Dairy of Washington Boro, Pennsylvania. Harnish and his family partners milk approximately 200 cows three times a day in an operation that features both free-stall and compost bedded pack housing.
“I’ve found the C.O.W.S. program to be very effective in measuring metrics on the farm that directly affect cow comfort and operational profitability,” Harnish says. “As dairy farmers I think we all tend to be a bit biased towards our own facilities and management. We assume this is as good as it gets, or this is all I’m capable of. But the C.O.W.S. program provides us with an independent unbiased perspective that’s important to help us identify areas of improvement that we might not recognize on our own.
“I would definitely recommend the C.O.W.S. program to other producers,” Harnish adds. “It can verify strengths but it also identifies problem areas that can be addressed to achieve higher production and greater efficiency and profitability.”
More information about the C.O.W.S. program can be obtained through Novus representatives or by visiting www.NovusCows.com. Learn more about oxidative balance in dairy cows by visiting the web site www.dairybalance.com.
Novus C.O.W.S. Program Q&A
What is the C.O.W.S. program?
The C.O.W.S. program is a joint collaboration between Novus International, Inc., and the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program.
The aim of the program is to provide U.S. dairy producers with an objective, systematic approach to improving management systems in order to optimize cow comfort, well-being and productive efficiency. C.O.W.S. is based on a recently completed University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program project that analyzed on-farm cow comfort in 43 free-stall dairies in that province. The ultimate goal is to achieve greater herd productivity and industry sustainability.
Why is Novus offering the C.O.W.S. program?
Sustainability is one of the cornerstones of our corporate vision of helping feed the world affordable, wholesome food. The U.S. dairy industry has been the model of efficiency and productivity over the past six decades, but sustainability is critical to its ongoing success.
The total U.S. dairy herd decreased from 25 million cows in 1944 to nine million head in 2007, while milk production increased from 117 to 186 billion pounds over that same timeframe. However, U.S. dairy farms are under more pressure than ever to produce even more high-quality output with fewer inputs.
We believe the C.O.W.S. program can help the dairy industry as a whole, as well as serve as a valuable tool to help producers maximize the comfort and well-being of their own animals for peak productivity and efficiency and enhanced sustainability.
What specifically is included in the C.O.W.S. program?
The C.O.W.S. program consists of four pillars that are key factors in productivity:
Comfort. Overall cow comfort is directly tied to the productive performance of dairy cows. C.O.W.S. evaluates comfort based on lameness, facility design and management.
Oxidative Balance. Sound nutrition and proper oxidative balance help keep cows healthy and productive. The program evaluates feeding and nutrition.
Well-Being. Environment and nutrition have a direct impact on the overall well-being of dairy cows. C.O.W.S. helps identify opportunities to enhance the well-being of herds.
Sustainability. Healthy cows with higher levels of productivity enhance sustainability through reduced carbon footprints and lower environmental impact per unit of milk.
Why is oxidative balance important to dairy production?
Oxidative balance is really a linchpin for the other three pillars of the C.O.W.S. program. Sound nutrition and proper oxidative balance are crucial in keeping a cow’s immunity levels high for optimum health and performance. Dealing with oxidative stress requires energy from the cow that could be used for milk production, growth, longevity and overall animal productivity. More information on oxidative balance is available at www.dairybalance.com.
What can producers expect from the program?
Each dairy farm that signs up for the program through a Novus sales representative will have an on-farm evaluation completed by Novus-trained personnel. Qualified representatives will:
Measure total lying time of cows with electronic data loggers;
Evaluate gait scores and hock health;
Perform body condition scores;
Analyze facility design and management measures that affect cow comfort, including bedding frequency, stall dimensions, neck rail placement, bunk space and more.
Each participating farm will receive a customized, confidential report that compares their operation to others in their region. Benchmarks can help producers identify whether or not they have problems that should be addressed. All individual farm information is anonymous and kept confidential.
Who can participate?
Novus is currently developing program benchmarks by evaluating 140 dairy operations in key dairy states, including California, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Texas and New Mexico. Novus representatives are currently considering operations in these and other key dairy-producing states as candidates for participating in the C.O.W.S. program. For more information, contact your local Novus sales representative.
What does it cost to participate?
We’re offering the C.O.W.S. program as a complimentary, value-added service to key customers. Consult your Novus representative for more information.
Where can I get more information or sign up for the program?