• 2020 Annual Conference

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    Name: 2020 Annual Conference
    Date: April 7, 2020 - April 9, 2020
    Registration: Sorry, public registration for this event has been closed.
    Event Description:

    Due to the state of emergency surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, Dane County has put a stop to all gatherings of more than 250 people. Therefore, all in-person events associated with the DCHA annual conference on April 7-9 have been canceled. 


    Please stay tuned, as the DCHA board and staff are working on a plan to potentially deliver the educational events and trade show exhibits in a digital format. The safety of our members, attendees and the communities we serve is our top priority.


    If you made your hotel reservations outside of the room block (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.), or you did not ask for the DCHA room block, you will have to call the hotel and cancel. If you did make reservations through the room block, your room is cancelled. The Sheraton Madison Hotel can be reached at 1-888-625-4988.

    Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. 

    Stay well,

    TJ McClure
    DCHA president


    Sue Schatz
    DCHA member services director


    Kristy Mach
    DCHA executive director


    “Shaping the Future” is the theme of the 2020 Dairy Calf & Heifer Association (DCHA) Annual Conference. Attendees will gain valuable knowledge and practical strategies to build a strong future for their calf and heifer business enterprises.
    The agenda can be found HERE.
    Matt Rush – the man who takes good and makes it “gooder” – headlines this year’s conference.
    “You can do more, be more and have more than you ever thought possible; you just have to be willing to get over yourself to get there,” said Rush. His keynote address presentation title is: "There's a snake in my bumper!"
    Raised on a farm in rural New Mexico, Rush brings a common sense, “farm boy” logic and humor to his audiences. He is known for bringing energy and enthusiasm to his speaking and training, which motivates and inspires people. A decorated public speaker and leadership book author, Rush is passionate about helping others and is dedicated to developing a strong, successful future for current and upcoming generations.

    General sessions include:
    Emily Yeiser Stepp, Senior Director, National Dairy FARM Program
    "Dairy industry collaboration on animal care"
    Animal care is the cornerstone of any successful dairy business, whether that be a calf or heifer operation or more traditional dairy facility. The FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program and DCHA continue to identify synergies between FARM and DCHA’s Gold Standards in order to bring value to the industry. Additionally, these synergies will help in demonstrating that our collective industry standards for animal care are recognized and respected throughout the entire dairy supply chain.

    Don Höglund, Owner, Dairy Stockmanship, co-author of “Efficient Livestock Handling”
    "How do dairy animals respond to different handling techniques: It's all about human, calf, heifer, cow and bull learning?"

    Why is cattle handling training so important? The injury rate for animal production workers is historically higher than the injury rate across all types of work in the United States In fact, the 2011 injury rate for animal production workers was 6.7 injuries per 100 workers, whereas, the rate across all types of work was 3.8 injuries per 100 workers (Department of Labor, 2012). Because livestock handling is commonly identified as one of the key causes of farm worker injuries, dairy producers are pursuing opportunities to provide worker safety education that includes cattle handling training. While the goal of these trainings may be to foster human learning on the farm, handling involves human-animal interactions and these interactions are also dependent on animal learning. Remember, FARM Program 4.0 requires hands-on training for euthanasia, calf-care, non-ambulatory animal and disbudding education.

    Breakout sessions include:
    Jason Lombard, USDA Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health 
    "New passive transfer standards for dairy calves and how to achieve them"
    Passive transfer is critical for the health and productivity of calves. Data from recent studies show that higher passive transfer levels are associated with lower morbidity levels in calves. New passive transfer standards will be presented and some guidelines on how to achieve the new standards.

    Chris Chase, Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at South Dakota State University
    "Understanding the good, the bad and ugly of the innate immune response"
    This presentation will focus on applying the latest information on the basic immune response to vaccines, timing and the immune cells involved and understanding the impact of nutraceuticals (i.e. probiotics and prebiotics) on calf health. It will also provide background on the innate immune cytokine storm, a perfect storm that involves a physiological component (negative energy balance) along with microbiome changes in the gut (diet change), resulting in poorer health and enhanced disease. In the end, it affects inflammatory pathways, which results in enhanced disease.

    Sarah Adcock, Graduate Student, Tucker Lab, University of California, Davis
    "Disbudding practices: Present and future"

    Disbudding is a widespread practice in the dairy industry. How painful is disbudding, and what can we do to ease it? What steps can producers take to stay ahead of consumer concerns and changing industry standards for disbudding?

    John Ellis, Professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology at Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
    "Why aren't we all dead? Building on Mother Nature's plan for inducing adaptive immunity through vaccinations"

    Gavin Staley, Technical Services Specialist, Diamond V
    "Why heifer maturity matters. The Peter Pan problem"

    Any production system should be evaluated by the final product of the process.  This is also true of heifer raising.  An evaluation of DairyComp305 production records sheds insight into the significant impact of heifer immaturity on whole herd production. Immature heifers leave a long shadow over a herd that cannot be remedied.

    Grant Crawford, Manager of Beef Cattle Technical Services, Merck Animal Health
    "Managing and marketing dairy x beef crossbred cattle"
    Dairy producers have started to take advantage of breeding their lower-genetic dairy cows to beef genetics to increase the value of the resulting offspring. This strategy has great potential benefit to the dairy operation. However, many questions remain regarding the best approach to manage this opportunity. This presentation will focus on the history of Holstein beef production, the current situation in crossbreeding, and dairy x beef crossbreeding considerations for success.

    Michael Steele, Professor at the Ontario Agricultural College, Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph
    "Calf nutritional management in 2030: Challenging the dogma"
    Over the past decade, dairy calf researchers have developed new concepts and technologies that will continue to evolve the way we manage calf nutrition on farm. Even with these advancements, there are still some key areas that require more attention, such as colostrum management, milk and milk replacer feeding, weaning strategies, post-weaning and precision nutritional management. The focus of this presentation will be to discuss the future direction of these key areas and predict how nutritional strategies will evolve over the next decade.

    Matt Rush, The Gooder Guy 
    "Breaking the connectivity code"

    We found a way to make sense of the "people puzzles" in our lives. By breaking the Connectivity Code, we can help you begin the process of CONNECTING to the people you work with, around and for on a daily basis.

    Panel discussions include topics about group housing and dairy x beef.

    On April 7, the optional tour to Larson Acres, Evansville, Wis. highlights an amazing operation. In addition, Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin assistant professor and extension animal welfare specialist, will discuss animal welfare benefits of social (pair/group) rearing.
    Larson Acres, Inc. includes six Larson families. Spanning five generations, they combine their interests, efforts, expertise and enthusiasm for farming. For nearly a century, the family has valued their place in the community. Currently, they raise crops on more than 5,000 acres and care for 2,800 cows.
    The dairy farm tour includes visiting four calf barns, with 60 individual calf pens in each two-row barn. Individual calf pens can be combined into pairs after weaning to introduce individuals to group housing. Larsons use an all-in, all-out management system. After a building has been completely cleaned, it sits empty for one to two weeks.
    Positive-pressure ventilation tubes run constantly in occupied barns to supplement natural ventilation achieved with tall, curtain sidewalls. Pens are set away from the sidewalls by 3.5 feet (1.1 meter) to avoid drafts of cold air on the calves coming in through the top opening in the curtain. A covered ridge cap allows natural ventilation forces to work while keeping out snow and rain.
    The concrete floors are graded from center outward to promote drainage to small gutters in front of and behind pens. Deep, straw bedding and calf jackets are used in the winter and wood shavings are used in summer.
    In addition, tour participants may tour the milking parlors and freestall barns at Larson Acres.

    Pre-conference sessions will be presented on Tuesday, April 7 by the following companies shortly after the tour returns.
    ABS Global: "
    Genetic Focus: Creating the most valuable calves across the dairy herd"
    Maximizing and cultivating the right genetics from your herd is no easy feat, particularly in our shifting and consolidating dairy market. As we strive to improve the efficiency and profitability of our dairy herd, it's more important than ever to assess opportunities to tie in a quality beef solution on our lower genetic animals. Let's take a closer look at the impact of using a differentiated beef-on-dairy program to drive profitability and give thought to its place in a high-caliber genetic strategy.

    NovaVive, Inc.: “Preparing calves for successful transportation and transition to new surroundings"
    Health and performance of preweaned dairy calves have a great influence on adult life performance. Amongst the diseases that affect young dairy calves, diarrhea and pneumonia are the most prevalent and economically important. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of Amplimune® (NovaVive Inc., Canada), administered around transportation, on the health and performance of heifer calves during the first 60 days of life. We hypothesized that calves receiving Amplimune® would have decreased disease treatment hazard, lower weekly health scores, decreased mortality and superior performance.

    An optional post-conference session which is scheduled for Thursday, April 9, will be conducted by Don Höglund. "Learn how to condition calmness in humans and animals; it only works where it is practiced"
    Conditioning calves, heifers, and cows to walk to and stand calmly in the parlor, in headlocks, throughout artificial insemination or for examinations and treatment, in the trimming chute, during disbudding or on and off transport is all about understanding how animals learn from and respond to their environment. Every employee on your farm that interacts with your animals is causing your animals (and your other employees) to learn something. You may not have intended to cause your heifers to avoid humans, often running through humans and slipping at every corner, but you likely did. If it works for the animal to run everywhere on farm, they will likely repeat it until it is a hard-to-change habit. Learn how to condition calmness in humans and animals. It works everywhere it is practiced."

    “Given activists’ relentless tactics to damage the reputation of our nation’s hard-working dairy producers and heifer growers, we’re pleased to offer a program that provides many proactive strategies to foster the utmost care for our calves, heifers and cows,” said Tamilee Nennich, a 2020 DCHA Annual Conference co-chair. “We know that DCHA members are committed to fine-tuning animal care practices as they shape the future.”
    Megan Kissel, a 2020 DCHA Annual Conference co-chair, added, “The DCHA Annual Conference is the only event that focuses on calf and heifer management. It’s a great opportunity to network with your peers and industry experts, and learn about new ideas, procedures and products related to raising dairy calves and heifers.
    DCHA is approved for RACE credits. 

    Event Media:
    The conference events will be held in the: 
    Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center.
    1919 Alliant Energy Center Way
    Madison, WI 53713

    Rooms have been set aside just across the street from the Alliant Energy Center at:

    Sheraton Madison Hotel
    706 John Nolen Drive
    Madison, WI 53713

    Complimentary shuttle to and from the Alliant Energy Center provided by the Sheraton.

    To make your reservation at the discounted rate call 1-888-625-4988 and mention “Dairy Calf and Heifer Association Annual Conference” by 3/16/2020 or use the link below:
    Book your group rate for Dairy Calf & Heifer Association Annual Conference

    The hotel provides shuttle service from the airport.
    When you have collected your baggage, call the front desk at 608-251-2300 and press 0. They will send the shuttle. If for some reason the shuttle is not available, the front desk will direct you to contact a specific cab company and the hotel will handle the charges.

    To see more of what Madison, WI has to offer, click here.
    Date/Time Information:
    April 7-9, 2020
    Contact Information:
    • Full conference registration ($395)
    • Tuesday conference registration ($100)
    • Wednesday conference registration ($250)
    • Thursday conference registration ($250)
    • Full conference registration ($645)
    • Tuesday conference registration ($200)
    • Wednesday conference registration ($350)
    • Thursday conference registration ($350)
    Farm and Industry Tours-Tuesday - an additional $75 fee
    Post-Conference Session & Tour-Thursday - an additional $50 fee

    Students - Please email sue@calfandheifer.org to get registered at a discounted rate.

    Cancellations received by Friday, March 13 are refundable in full. Request for cancellation must be sent via email to: sue@calfandheifer.org. After March 13, cancellations are subject to a fee equal to 50% of the booked conference registration. Please note: If you do not cancel and do not attend, you are still responsible for payment. Substitutions may be made at any time.
    Recording videos at our event is strictly prohibited, unless prior approval from DCHA staff is obtained.
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