Fresh cow repro: Taking it to next level

CLOVIS, NM – What do we think about when we ponder fresh cow repro? Probably many things, but ask yourself how much of that thinking is outside the box of what we actually do?

Pfizer Animal Health has taken out-of-the-box thinking on fresh cow reproduction to a new level as part of their dairy wellness plan management program. Their technical service veterinarians and outside programmers, focused on training territory managers on how to use extensive amounts of computer software data.

“This helped to make it fairly simple for us to look at the fluctuation of data across the board and be able to say everything looks good, except here,” said Carlton Flatow, Pfizer’s New Mexico territory fresh cow reproduction manager. “Then we have the option to go back to the dairyman’s software program and drill down on that a little further.”

Pfizer noticed when tracking herd movement and progress from this program and keeping up to date with the dairyman, things on the dairy seemed to go better.

“Whether it meant sales of our products or not, overall the herd was happier, economically they performed better, and when they did use our products, they were used more appropriately,” said Flatow.

From significant positive feedback and the help Pfizer was able to provide the dairyman, a fresh cow reproduction team was born. Pfizer’s Chris Roeder was able to develop a task force of territory managers to implement this program.

“It’s really founded upon evidence-based selling. We look very aggressively at the records as a starting point and then we are out with the cows and the people at the dairy. Following the good things as well as the bad and looking for ways to make the facility more efficient,” said Flatow.

From that point, Pfizer representatives will get together with the dairy’s veterinarian, nutritionist, and AI company to figure out what the challenges are and determine the direction they are going to go to make the dairy more efficient, better economically, and have a happy, healthier herd.

“Everybody gets together and works for the common good. There is always so much going on at a dairy that it becomes routine. When team members from the outside visit, they can often see ways to improve the operation,” Flatow stated.

Collaborative effort

Pfizer pulled together a collaborative team from across the country; people who have masters and PhDs along with people from the industry that they can bounce ideas off of to get better results for the dairymen. The team has three goals in mind: 1) appropriate use of the products, 2) economic health of the dairy, and 3) the overall health of the dairy.

Through research and communication on the dairy they are able to resolve things that could be potential problems. Flatow works with all managers: the dairyman, herdsman, milkers, and feeders to find out what they think is happening and compares all of the information. With that, he is able to find out how things are being done and what needs to happen to improve efficiency and herd health.

With the current state of dairy industry economics, the fresh cow repro team members are dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. “We are going through protocols making sure cows are being treated with the correct drugs for the right amount of time, and making note of the proper withdrawal times on those drugs,” Flatow declared. “We are like a business partner on the dairy and have a different stake in the business. We are able to facilitate communication between various participants and how they all come together.”

How does it all work?

Dutch Valley Farms of Clovis, NM sheds some light on how the fresh cow repro management program has worked for them. “As we grew we knew we needed to work together as a management team and find a good product and a good system to be working with,” said Dan Visser owner of Dutch Valley Farms. Visser has been with the fresh cow program for a few years and found he was able to use what he was doing and share ideas back and forth.

“What turned us on to the fresh cow repro program was that they were willing to work with us as a management team and with our employees, because it’s not just a medicine program. Pfizer wants to help you educate your employees,” said Visser.

“It’s a huge plus, it helps them and the employees, and its one of those things if you teach them – if it’s here or somewhere else in life – it’s a win for us and a win for them,” Todd Silveira, dairy manager said.

The program helps educate the employees and makes them realize they are important. As well as giving them a better understanding of why certain protocols are adopted and need to be followed.

“If you are not educated about your role on the dairy, then they have no clue what they are doing either, or why they need to be doing it,” interjected Visser. “It becomes a disadvantage for us if they don’t understand what they are doing.”

The program for Dutch Valley becomes a friendly reminder for all parties involved and makes clear what they need to be doing. “Sometimes you become stale in the job you are doing and you need to be reminded what you should be doing,” said Brian Visser.

As the dairy industry and bovine world are ever changing with drug protocols and animal welfare, it becomes very important to keep up with it all. Dutch Valley Farms believes that with the program it is a good constant reminder of keeping up your protocols and engaging and educating your employees. Without proper education, it’s hard to expect employees to know what they are doing and why it is so important to follow through.

This year Pfizer has been putting on specific schools for maternity crews, hospital and parlor managers, which has helped employees become better at their jobs.

“You get guys together from different dairies and they talk and they educate. Then we can take what we want from that and put it into place if we don’t already have it in place,” said Silveira.

The educating and training becomes a joint effort between the dairymen, manager and employees and it brings everyone on to the same page. “Pfizer’s Dr. Juan Pedraza, being fluent in Spanish, creates a comfortable atmosphere for our employees to sit and listen and he facilitates a lot of interaction,” observed Dan Visser.

The program has provided fine-tuning for specific jobs on the dairy, while holding people responsible. “You cannot put enough emphasis on education, because a lot of the people that work on the dairy are not well educated,” Visser stated.

“It’s making them care, especially out here on the dairy, if they care here then they are going to care at home,” explains Silveira.

“They understand more of the science behind it too, besides just what they see,” said Brian Visser.

“Dairymen are good at just hiring people and throwing them out there to do a job. But, if you don’t teach them, how are they ever going to know what is right and what is wrong?” Silveira declared.

Changes implemented on dairy

The management tool that Pfizer provided has given Dutch Valley a leg up on different practices to become more efficient. They went from locking cows up and working them twice, to one time a day. They saw the trend of intakes going down, reversed to intakes coming up.

“Everything we do we try to improve on and do our homework,” Silveira explained.

“As a dairyman, I think it makes me feel a little more comfortable, because we are working as a team on these programs. It also makes you feel more comfortable when you can see things are being done properly,” Dan Visser said.

Pfizer has help Visser and his team focus on individual groups such as the hospital herd, calves and maternity. From there they are able to pin point specific problems.

“We live with this operation daily, so when the Pfizer management team comes in every couple of weeks they often spot something that we are missing,” stated Silveira.

“What’s nice about Pfizer is that it’s not just a medicine company it’s a management company,” said Visser. “They have found that no longer is it just about the medicine, it’s about the management expertise that can be provided to large dairies, and tools of support that help to make the dairyman better.”

One of Dutch Valley’s main goals before they came into this program was to streamline their vaccinations program on all areas of the dairy. Their other goal was to educate their employees. Both goals have been met successfully, declared Visser.

“The work is ongoing. It’s not like we have accomplished everything. So we continually tweak our operation,” he said.

The program has been great for Dutch Valley and Visser praised Flatow and Dr. Juan Rodrigo Pedraza for the work they have done.

“It has become a business relationship that has developed into a friendship, and we hold them all in high regard,” declared Silveira.


■  To contact Dan Visser at Dutch Valley Farms, Clovis, NM, call 575-791-8538 or e-mail him at,

■  To contact Carlton Flatow, Pfizer Animal Health, call 575-749-5440 or e-mail him at,