Novartis Animal Health has announced the introduction of Healthy Heifer, a new heifer management program designed specifically to maximize the long term value of dairy replacement heifers through established health and management protocols. The program works to ensure heifers are well-prepared for a highly productive and profitable role on the dairy.

Healthy Heifer is a veterinarian-verified management program that enables dairy heifers to reach their full genetic and reproductive potential by minimizing disease challenges. The program emphasizes prevention, rather than treatment, in order to reduce the risk of disease and other health setbacks that frequently inhibit heifer growth and reproductive performance. Healthy Heifer also focuses on proactively addressing environmental and management factors that have a direct effect on heifer development and performance.

“Replacement heifers have a tremendous influence on the genetics, profitability and sustainability of dairy herds,” said Doug Scholz, veterinarian and director of veterinary services for Novartis Animal Health. “But as an industry, we haven’t been very progressive in establishing standards for managing heifers. Healthy Heifer is designed to help producers capture the maximum lifetime economic value of heifers by improving their performance, breeding efficiency and milk production throughout their lifetime.”

The Healthy Heifer program focuses on five key management areas including prenatal care, colostrum management, growth and development, nutrition and vaccination. Producers who enroll in Healthy Heifer are provided with established protocols that include respiratory and reproductive vaccinations, parasite control, mineral supplementation, pregnancy checking and other best management practices.

Veterinarians play an integral role in Healthy Heifer, working closely with producers to customize protocols so they fit within established standard operating procedures and meet the specific needs of individual dairy operations. Following implementation of Healthy Heifer, the herd veterinarian verifies animals have been managed in accordance with program protocols.

“By following the Healthy Heifer program, producers are ensuring the availability of top-performing replacement heifers and will have peace of mind knowing their heifers are healthy and being prepared for a profitable role on the dairy,” said Scholz.  “Healthy heifers reach breeding age sooner, get to the milking string sooner and have lower rearing costs.”

Scott Morey, senior bovine marketing manager for Novartis Animal Health, said the benefits of programs like Healthy Heifer that include strong animal welfare components extend beyond the producer level.

“As an industry, anytime we can demonstrate and document the proactive measures we’re taking to ensure animal welfare, we are enhancing public perceptions about the dairy and food production industries,” said Morey. “We are extremely pleased to offer this one-of-a-kind program to support dairy producers and veterinarians in their efforts to improve the health and performance of replacement heifers.”

Producers are encouraged to work with their veterinarian to learn more about implementing Healthy Heifer on their operation or visit www.healthyheifer.com.

Source: Novartis Animal Health