Don’t miss out on the exciting lineup at this year’s Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) conference being held April 11-13 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen is a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

Themed “Moving Forward,” the conference will offer unmatched networking opportunities and highlight the latest practices, technology and research in the calf and heifer industry.

For more information or to sign up, visit Dairy Calf and Heifer Association or contact DCHA or call (855) 400-3242. View the full conference agenda below.

Monday, April 11

9 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Registration desk open


11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Lunch and networking

12:30 – 6 p.m.: Farm tours and demonstrations

Tour Stop A: Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC
Paying attention to fresh water, ventilation and precise feeding practices has been a key focus of Rosy-Lane Holsteins’ calf barn management, where they house 130 head of calves.

Open-front gates to plastic calf cubicles have been beneficial for easy calf access, better observation and air flow for the calves. After weaning, calves are moved to small groups of 10 to 12 in the same barn.

This tour will also feature an on-farm demonstration focusing on sanitation.

Tour Stop B: Nehls Bros. Dairy Farm
Look at best practices of pasteurizing waste milk and tracking weights and growth rate metrics.

6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Advocating Agriculture through Social Media
Greg Peterson, 
Peterson Farm Brothers

With Peterson Farm Brothers’ video views in the millions and over a quarter of a million fans on Facebook, Greg Peterson offers a unique insight into the role of social media in agriculture. Don’t miss out on a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a social media hit.

Tuesday, April 12

7:15 – 8 a.m.
Breakfast and Welcome in the Trade Show

Join all registered attendees and exhibitors to kick off the conference.

8:15 – 9:15 a.m.
Keynote Address:
Energize the Enthusiasm … that Exists Within
Paul Vitale,
Vital Communications Inc.

Being able to define enthusiasm, identify your passions and what can be done to make those passions shine are keys to maintaining enthusiasm in the whirlwind of life. This seminar will not only reinforce why enthusiasm works but also provide the tools necessary to embrace it each day.

9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Leading Successful Teams
Dr. Bernie Erven,
Ohio State University

Actually being a successful team is a major challenge for those who lead teams and those who are team members. Learn how you can overcome roadblocks and lead successful teams through insights on team building, leadership and delegation.

10:30 – 11 a.m.: Break in the trade show

11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Developing a Quality Heifer: Management, Economic and Biological Factors to Consider
Mike Van Amburgh,
Cornell University

Most, if not all, dairies have increased management pressure on the lactating animals in order to optimize milk yield and return on investment. This session will touch on benchmarks important to maximize the resulting productive animal in the milking herd.

12:15 – 1 p.m.: Lunch in the trade show

1:15 – 1:45 p.m.
DCHA Annual Business Meeting

Celebrating 20 years of DCHA as the source of calf and heifer information for the industry.

1:45 – 2:30 p.m.
Inspired Teamwork and Leadership
Paul Vitale,
Vital Communications Inc.

The strength of a team is centered on the individuals who comprise the group; the strength of a leader begins with the team. Uniting for a common cause, understanding and respecting diversity, and encouraging individuals through positive actions are all elements of this empowering presentation.

2:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Track A: Antibiotics and Calves – Current and Future Considerations
Danielle Mzyk,
North Carolina State University

Discuss current and upcoming issues of antibiotic use in calf and heifer management including feeding of waste milk, antibiotic resistance, residue avoidance and implications of the veterinary feed directive on raising calves.

Track B: Nutrition in the Post-Weaned Calf
Tamilee Nennich,
Famo Feeds

Learn more about the numerous recently conducted research studies that highlight the importance of feeding post-weaned heifers quality, grain-based diets as a way to increase growth and improve feed efficiency.

Track C: Making the Transition to an Organic Heifer Raising System
Ray Williams,
Williams Dairy Heifer Raising

Going organic can be an exciting challenge. Hear how this producer made the switch and the lessons learned through the process.

 3:30 – 4 p.m.: Break in the trade show

4:15 – 5 p.m.
Track A: Dairy Beef Producer Panel

A panel of producers will discuss their experiences, successes and challenges raising dairy feeders for the beef market. Learning from peers has never been more important, and that is exactly what this panel will provide to conference attendees.

Track B: Building Client Relationships Producer Panel
Moderated by Dr. Bernie Erven,
Ohio State University

This panel of producers will share their insights on building relationships with the producer-clients they serve. This candid discussion on successes and opportunities to learn from one another will be a unique conference offering.

5 – 6:30 p.m.
Mixer in the Trade Show

Attendees will have the chance to connect with industry-leading companies, fellow producers, veterinarians and student attendees. Unwind from an eventful day while enjoying appetizers and drinks.

Wednesday, April 13 

7 – 7:45 a.m.: Breakfast in the trade show

8 – 9 a.m.
Importance of a Quality Dairy Replacement Heifer
Mike Overton, Elanco

A quality replacement is the future of a dairy operation. This presentation will discuss the economic and performance impact of common health issues in dairy replacement heifers.

9:15 – 10 a.m.
Track A: Opportunities and Challenges in Heifer Reproduction and Monitoring
Mike Overton, Elanco

This session will focus on the opportunities and management options regarding reproductive performance in virgin heifers.

Track B: Group Housing and Feeding Programs Producer Panel

Producers with a variety of housing and feeding systems will share their operation challenges and successes learned over time.

Track C: TMR Audits for Improved Feeding Management and Profit
Tom Oelberg, Diamond V

Discuss strategies on a key factor in feeding management – reducing variation during the TMR mixing process.

 10 – 10:30 a.m.: Break in the trade show

 10:45 – 11:30 a.m.: *Repeated from above

 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Lunch in the trade show

 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Animal Welfare: Wading Through the Controversy
Sandy Stokes Goff,
Stagecoach Consulting Services

Find out how good animal welfare programs facilitate better environments for dairy cattle and a better work environment for employees, all while increasing consumer confidence.

1:45 – 2:30 p.m.
Track A: Welfare Programs Producer Panel
Moderated by Sandy Stokes Goff, Stagecoach Consulting Services

Listen, learn and ask questions of producers who have implemented animal welfare programs in their operation. They will share what that has meant for their supply chain partners, employees and consumer confidence.

Track B: Using Knowledge of Calf Behavior to Improve Growth, Health and Welfare
Trevor de Vries, University of Guelph

This presentation will identify some of the key welfare challenges and how we can use knowledge of calf behavior to identify housing and feeding programs that optimize growth, health and welfare.

Track C: Question Everything
Dave Sjeklocha, Cattle Empire

Calf raising is steeped in traditions and paradigms that may not be as correct as we would like to think. We will examine some of these processes as they pertain to animal welfare, antibiotic use and animal performance.

 2:30 – 3 p.m.
Building Consumer Confidence in Dairy
Stan Erwine, Dairy Management Inc.

Whose job is it? What’s your role? What’s at risk if you don’t engage with consumers? Join us for answers to these questions and more.

3 – 6 p.m.
Post-Conference Tour and Lab Demonstrations
Don Sockett,
Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

Theresa Ollivett,
UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Keith Poulsen,
Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

Exclusive tours of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine will be combined with sessions and demonstrations on cleaning and sanitizing automated calf feeders, evaluating scouring calves and treating dehydrated calves.  PD