The NOVUS C.O.W.S. Program – A Tool for Making Progress

It’s no secret that dairy production and management are constantly evolving systems.  The day-to-day chores of milking, feeding, cleaning and the fixing of all things that break may sometimes feel redundant.  The long term and big picture of these tasks is that we can always do better – make improvements to save money, save time, save labor, improve cow health, increase milk production and quality – make progress. Sometimes challenging aspects of the business are projects that are easy to spot and prioritize.  Sometimes the list is long and it’s impossible to find a starting point.  We can help.

NOVUS International is an animal nutrition company with the mission to “inspire every animal producer and owner on the planet. As relentless advocates for intelligent nutrition, [they] deliver advanced technology, rooted in scientific research designed to help their animals reach their full potential.”  If you are a dairy producer in the Northeast (and beyond) working with a nutritionist to feed your cows, it is likely that you feed one of the NOVUS mineral products developed to enhance immune function, reproductive performance, milk yield and components, or hoof health.  Including NOVUS mineral packages in your ration makes you eligible for the NOVUS C.O.W.S. Program.

The C.O.W.S. Program began as a grad student project and has evolved into a detailed farm assessment done by a highly skilled team of technicians with access to a database of benchmark information collected from thousands of dairy operations and all the relevant research. 

How it works: The team conducts a detailed on-farm evaluation which includes completing a questionnaire with the farm manager to help identify areas of concern, collects cow side data, records observations, and takes facility measurements.  Evaluations may include:

  • Locomotion, hock, manure, and/or body condition scoring
  • Attaching loggers to a representative sample of cows to monitor and record time budget information
  • Temperature, humidity and air flow data collection to assess heat stress
  • Stall usage, measurements and bedding assessment
  • Stocking density evaluation for feed bunk space, stall and water access
Cows with loggers attached to their legs with vet wrap.  The loggers stay on for 5-7 days and records bout length and time spent standing or lying down.

After processing all the information, the team builds a customized report for the farm which includes benchmark comparisons to similar operations according to location, size, production and facility type.  The NOVUS team then coordinates an in-person meeting to review the report with the farm’s team – managers, owners, stockholders, veterinarians, nutritionists, hoof trimmers, and technical assistance providers.  Anyone who is invested in the farm’s success can be at the table.  The meeting is a conversation that produces an action plan of do-able solutions and identifies short- and long-term goals.

The NOVUS C.O.W.S.  Program is available free of charge to eligible farms.  If this sounds like the next right step for your operation, inquire with your nutritionist or reach out to UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Dairy Research Specialist Amber Machia ( or 802-355-2653).

More information about the NOVUS C.O.W.S. program is available on their website C.O.W.S. Program | Novus International, Inc. or

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