Bob James, Ph.D., is a Dairy Science Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech; DCHA board member and 2017 conference committee co-chairperson
Bob James, Ph.D., is a Dairy Science Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech; DCHA board member and 2017 conference committee co-chairperson

Raising healthy calves and heifers requires passion and skill. The “Sky’s the Limit” at this year’s Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) annual conference, set for April 11-13 in Madison, Wis.

At the conference, learn how to take your calf and heifer management to the next level, gain insight from industry-leading experts, engage in hands-on farm tours, experience an industry-focused tradeshow, network with peers and attend the post-conference wet lab. 

Five reasons why you should attend

1.    Get answers to the tough questions. The importance of sharing your story and talking with consumers continues to grow. In telling your story, you can be faced with some tough questions. Learn how to handle the challenging questions by hearing from a panelist of dairy stakeholders and presentations highlighting animal welfare, with a specific focus on young calves.

2.    Find new ways to motivate your team. Whether you’re trying to improve performance or working with your team to follow proper protocols, being able to motivate your employees is an instrumental skillset. Gain insight on creating a positive work environment and develop teamwork.

3.    Learn from your peers. We can all learn a lot from one another if we take the time to listen to each other. Through session questions, panel discussions, farm tours and the trade show, you’ll have countless opportunities to learn from your peers.

4.    Remember the mature heifers. It can be easy for older heifers to fall off the radar. Do you take the time to sit back and evaluate your client’s heifer program? Hear about new strategies to get heifers pregnant, keep them growing and start returning on the investment sooner.

5.    Look to the future. The future of your client’s herd begins with getting newborn calves off to a healthy, growing start. Learn how nutrition and housing could be impacting the health of calves.

Farm tours

Prior to the conference, participants will have the opportunity to view calf and heifer facilities and learn about management practices at two Wisconsin dairy farms.

Ziegler Dairy, Middleton, Wis., is a multi-generational farm that has been in operation for 155 years. Three generations work side-by-side to care for their herd consisting of 1,350 cows and 1,500 heifers. From construction to management, this tour will showcase expansion updates including automatic calf feeders and transition heifer barns.

Endres Jazzy Jerseys, Lodi, Wis., is home to 900 cows and 800 youngstock. The Endres family farms about 1,200 acres and has a harvesting LLC with two other partners. Designing their calf barn as an all-in, all-out facility has helped calf health. See what this farm does to ensure an extremely low death loss in Jersey calves.

Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Wet Lab

The learning won’t stop once the conference ends. This popular event has a new wrinkle this year. Members of the University of Wisconsin College of Veterinary Medicine and Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab will conduct several workshops at the host hotel. Experts will provide insight regarding on-farm testing, treatment and management practices to better address or reduce the risk of health concerns.

Attendees will rotate between hands-on sessions on pathogen identification and testing, cleaning and sanitizing, and administrating fluids.

Demonstrations will include:

·         Catheter administration and treatment troubleshooting

·         How testing can help determine whether an illness stems from a recurring disease or could be linked to management practices

·         Sanitation and electrolyte use: from picking the best electrolyte for an operation to strategies for optimum electrolyte use

ARPAS Credits

The conference has been pre-approved by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists for up to nine continuing education units. Participants should request credits for this event at or by emailing

Make plans to attend

To register and for a full conference schedule with session descriptions, visit

New DCHA member benefit

We are excited to announce our new member benefit: the DCHA Member Network. This new private Facebook discussion group, exclusive to members, was developed to ensure the valuable peer networking you experience at the DCHA conference is available year-round. Members now have a continuous platform to connect with fellow DCHA members, ask questions and discuss calf and heifer raising topics.

Join here:

Gold Standards

The Gold Standards provides a framework for raising dairy calves and heifers, including research-based benchmarks and best management practices. Have you seen the new edition? The Gold Standards are available online for download in the Members Only section of our website. You can also request a printed version by completing our online form at