Novartis Animal Health has announced Healthy Heifer, a new heifer management program designed specifically to maximize the long-term value of beef replacement heifers through established health and management protocols. After highly successful pilot programs in a limited number of regions, the heifer management system will now be available to beef producers nationwide.
Healthy Heifer is a veterinarian-verified management program that enables replacement 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. It also focuses on proactively addressing environmental and management factors that directly affect heifer development and performance.
“Replacement heifers have a tremendous influence on the genetics, profitability and sustainability of beef herds,” said Doug Scholz, DVM, director of veterinary services, Novartis Animal Health. “But as an industry, we haven’t been very progressive in establishing standards for managing replacement females. Healthy Heifer is designed to help producers capture the maximum lifetime economic value of heifers by improving their performance, breeding efficiency and ability to produce heavier, healthier calves.”
The Healthy Heifer program focuses on five key management areas including prenatal care, colostrum management, nutrition, vaccination, and growth and development. Producers enrolled 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 operations. Following implementation, the herd veterinarian verifies that animals have been managed in accordance with program protocols. Distinctive pink ear tags will mark heifers enrolled in the program and will denote the veterinarian-verified status of the animals.
“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 in their operation or successful trip to the sale barn,” said Scholz.
Heifers enrolled in the pilot programs had lower health care costs, were quicker to settle in first pregnancy, had reduced calving difficulty and heavier, healthier calves that made bigger contributions to the operation’s profitability.
Scott Morey, senior bovine marketing manager, 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 beef and food production industries,” said Morey. “We are extremely pleased to offer this one-of-a-kind program to support beef 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.