Celebrating 25 Years: Helping Feed Tomorrow
Novus C.O.W.S.® Data Directs Improvements
Novus offers our C.O.W.S.® program at no charge to customers, providing them data they can use to make changes to facilities and management practices resulting in improved performance.
C.O.W.S. stands for comfort, oxidative balance, well-being, and sustainability. The program was developed in conjunction with the University of British Columbia to evaluate cow comfort on dairies and provide feedback relative to regional benchmarks. Through the feedback, producers gain objective data for decision-making. Data is collected for:
- Lying time
- Hock injury
- Swollen knees
- Lying area (bedding cleanliness and quantity)
- Stall dimensions
- Feeding area
- Time management around milking
The Novus C.O.W.S. team has conducted more than 800 assessments throughout the United States and Canada. Several dairies, after receiving feedback and information on ways to unlock bottlenecks to performance, implemented changes. A handful of those dairies have had reassessments completed, to evaluate the total impact of those changes. Through this process, overall cow comfort and production has been improved on those dairies. The changes have ranged in scope from changing the number of milkings a day and how the groups are brought up for milking to replacing the existing bedding with a new, optimized bedding option.
The following are case studies of dairies that made changes due to C.O.W.S. report data and the input of trusted consultants. These examples prove how dramatic improvements in cow comfort can be.
Identifying bottlenecks and implementing change in a business can be hard when there are multiple stakeholders looking in several different directions. A large partnership dairy received an assessment in 2010 and scored amongst the poorest performing for lameness and hock injuries in their region. Through the Novus C.O.W.S. program data delivery, all partners, and even financers, were brought to the table to focus, understand their bottlenecks and the implication they had on cow comfort. Through their newfound understanding, the dairymen were able to change from waterbeds with sawdust to shallow-bedded sand by adding a wood lip on the curb and putting in a few inches of sand, a total investment of around $20,000. Hock injuries and lameness both dropped significantly, and even though cows went off BST during this time, milk production was maintained. The improvement in cow comfort – a result of reviewing C.O.W.S. report data with all stakeholders – made the difference and kept the producer profitable.
Even though costly investments are often made, sometimes simple changes in protocol and cow management can be key in optimizing comfort and performance. On one particular dairy, a series of small changes prompted by their C.O.W.S. report resulted in decreased lameness, increased lying time, reduced hock injuries, and greatly increased cow comfort. Changes included footbath protocol, improved sanitation in the pen, reduced stall stocking density, and reduced time away from the pen.
The Novus C.O.W.S. program brings focus to an area of the business that, often times, gets over looked. In 2012, a C.O.W.S. report delivery indicated one of the key bottlenecks at the dairy was time cows were spending away from pen (TAFP) for milking. This was impacting the amount of time the cows had access to resources in the pen like TMR, water and rest. The goal was set to decrease TAFP by adding an additional milker and increasing parlor throughput. Before committing to the full change, the dairyman tested his theory by pushing cows to evaluate the effectiveness of adding a third person. After seeing the benefits, the dairyman hired another milker increasing the crew from one milker and one milker/pusher to two full milkers and one cow pusher/barn cleaner. This change caused total herd milk time per shift to decrease by 2.5 hours while at the same time milk production responded and increased by eight pounds over the next six months.
The changes didn’t stop there. After about a year, the cows were up in production so much and parlor efficiencies were peaking so the dairy made the decision to go to 3x milking saying, “Cows were telling us they needed 3x milking by leaking between 2x milking.” Despite this milking frequency change, the dairyman made a point to keep TAFP low on farm and split pens in half when bringing animals out of the pen for milking. This allowed the dairy to increase to 3x but maintain a low TAFP. Cows increased production by almost 10 pounds over the next five months as a result. By Novus offering key insight into an area not previously addressed (TAFP), the farm was better enabled to meet the animal’s needs (to lie down, eat and drink) and positively impact cow comfort and production.
It’s encouraging to know change can come in many shapes and sizes. Some changes can be as basic as employee education and SOP alteration. A dairy that completed its first assessment in 2014 had shallow-bed sand on top of mattresses as a stall base. After the assessment, the dairyman continued to add bedding to the stalls twice a week but paid careful attention to ensure the bedding was added at the head of the stall and that daily grooming procedures were adjusted to keep the sand towards the front of the stall. This simple change resulted in a more desirable stall surface and lying time increasing by almost one hour per day on average. The lying time range was reduced from 3.8 to 15.8 hours to a more ideal range of 10.6 to 17.0 hours.
Cow comfort can be very multi-faceted and it often requires third party observation to help identify some of the bottlenecks limiting production. The Novus C.O.W.S. program has been working for five years to increase the comfort of the North American dairy herd. Through customers and industry group partnerships, the program continues to grow in scope and availability. For more information on the Novus C.O.W.S. program or cow comfort, contact your Novus sales representative.
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Mycotoxins in Dairy Feed
At the Southwest Nutrition Conference hosted in Tempe, Arizona, Novus hosted a breakfast featuring Dr. Duarte Diaz talking on “Antioxidants and Mycotoxicosis.” Dr. Diaz emphasized the four main factors impacting milk production in dairy cattle: genetics, nutrition, environmental conditions and management. When one of these is disrupted there is a chain reaction. Mycotoxin challenges, a nutritional factor, lead to oxidative stress and can have a negative impact on milk production. One of the ways to prevent those mycotoxin challenges from affecting the animal is to supplement with an antioxidant. By preventing oxidative stress and damage to liver, kidneys and other target organs, as well as preventing stimulation of lipid peroxidation in the intestine, cows are not negatively impacted by those nutritional stressors. When you combine an antioxidant with a mycotoxin solution, vitamin A and vitamin E levels are increased in the animal over using a mycotoxin solution itself as well. Dr. Diaz summarized the talk by reminding the crowd oxidative stress can be multi-faceted and a comprehensive plan and approach are the best ways to mitigate challenges faced during stressful situations.
With You When It Matters
World Ag Expo, Tulare, California
The Novus dairy team in California attended the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, in February again this year. A new highlight at the Novus booth was the prize wheel which allowed the general show audience to step into the booth and learn more about Novus and the dairy industry while playing for a prize. In addition to this, Dr. Lyle Rode, ruminant technical services manager for Novus, was at the show to meet with some of the key nutritionists in attendance. Laura Osborne, Novus dairy sales representative for the west, had identified and shared the message of MINTREX and the value of providing a high quality trace mineral to lactating cows, transition cows and even growing calves. The show was very successful for the team this year, the weather was great, several customers were in attendance and the industry was hopeful of a successful El Nino to help alleviate some of the drought concerns continuing to plague the Central Valley.
Getting to Know Jared Hux
What is your official title at Novus?
Senior Manager – North America Marketing
How long have you been with Novus?
In your role what is the most interesting thing you do?
The world area marketing role in Novus is an extremely cross-functional role that requires collaboration with several departments for the development and implementation of the sales and marketing strategies for Novus’s methionine and specialty businesses in North America. In my role, I am able to interact with my counterparts from the other world areas allowing me to bring new ideas and product/solution concepts from other regions to North America.
What is your favorite Novus product?
ALIMET® is my favorite Novus product. I started my career with Novus 10 years ago working on the ALIMET business and have been fortunate to be involved with the ALIMET business ever since.
What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
In 2012, I was given the opportunity to take an expatriate three year assignment in Brazil. It was an excellent opportunity that allowed me to have an active role in managing Novus’s methionine business and marketing organization in Latin America. In addition, I had tremendous personal benefit in learning a new language and being fully immersed in the Brazilian culture with my family. It gave us the opportunity to travel to places we probably would have never visited in our lifetime.
What is the oddest or hardest question a customer has ever asked you?
I was once asked by a customer if I had a good chocolate cake recipe for a family reunion she was attending. I shared the recipe with her and a few days later she called me with a few questions just to check to make sure she was following the recipe correctly.
How do you work with customers to address their needs and overcome challenges they face?
In my role, I work daily with the sales and technical teams in North America and meet with customers on a regular basis. Being able to hear first-hand the challenges that our customers face and contribute to potential solutions to address these challenges is very rewarding.
When you are not promoting Novus products what do you like to do?
I enjoy golfing, spending time with my family and almost any activity that involves being outdoors.
If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be?
Webster’s Dictionary – I truly enjoy learning.
What is your favorite beef/dairy/pork/poultry product to eat?
Hmmm…this is a hard one. I like steak, but I eat a lot of chicken. However, each year at World Pork Expo I look forward to having the world famous bacon covered donuts!!