The Novus C.O.W.S. (Cow Comfort, Oxidative Balance, Well-being and Sustainability) Program® helps dairy producers analyze their herd's daily activities and provides producers with the information to help them ensure the comfort and well-being of their cows. To create this one-of-a-kind program, Novus partnered with the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program to develop a nationwide benchmarking study. Its goal? To evaluate dairy operations and provide ways to improve cow comfort, enhance their oxidative balance and promote the well-being of the herd. While, at the same time, contributing to sustainability in the dairy industry.
In its first year, the C.O.W.S. program measured approximately 140 dairies across California, Texas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New York.
What is it?
The C.O.W.S. program is a joint collaboration between the University of British Columbia (UBC) Animal Welfare Program and Novus International. It is based on a recently completed UBC project analyzing on-farm cow comfort assessment with 43 free stall dairies in British Columbia. The C.O.W.S. program evaluates individual dairy farms relative to benchmarks on several cow comfort measures (lying time measured with transponders, gait score, etc.), facility design and management measures. Additionally, the program provides feedback to the individual dairy with ratings on all variables. The aim is to optimize dairy cow well-being, comfort and productive efficiency by providing a systematic approach to improve management focus and practice.
Novus International, Inc.
At Novus, we believe in empowering those working in animal agriculture – from farm to table – with the tools and knowledge to make a positive impact in their local communities and the world. Our core vision: “help feed the world affordable, wholesome food and achieve a higher quality of life” helps us realize scientifically based innovations that address the key challenges facing the global animal agriculture industry. We're committed to sustainability of the triple bottom line: social, economic and environmental enhancements. Sustainability is about finding new ways of living, working and innovating that meet individual, business and society needs without compromising the needs of future generations. We continually work as an organization to assess how we can gear ourselves through innovative thought and action towards sustainable business practices and product offerings.
How dairies are selected
We’re encouraging nutritionists to recommend dairy operations that could benefit from the C.O.W.S. program. The goal is to compile a data analysis that will provide dairy producers with simple, easy-to-use measurements that will build upon their existing management plans and help increase the comfort of the cows.
Why is it important?
Optimal cow comfort, welfare, housing, heat abatement strategies, nutritional additives and overall care are essential for the health and well-being of dairy cows and critical to achieve high productivity levels as well as increase the productive lifespan of a cow. A healthy and highly productive cow is able to dilute its maintenance cost and significantly reduce its carbon footprint per unit of milk output. Sustainability for the dairy industry depends on healthy animals, living longer, and achieving high levels of desirable outputs from fewer inputs (such as land, water, fertilizers, etc.) promoting profitability and environmental stewardship.
University of British Columbia
The objective of the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program is to improve the lives of animals through research, education and public outreach.
The University of British Columbia established the Animal Welfare Program in 1997 to improve the welfare and humane care of animals in agriculture, research, companionship and other areas, and to help build a knowledge-based consensus on the broader ethical questions that arise over humane use of animals. The program addresses these issues through active efforts in teaching, research and public outreach.
In its first decade, the Animal Welfare Program has become one of the largest and most respected animal welfare science centers globally and its research has led to improvements in the lives of animals around the world.