Dairy Farmers, Custom Raisers, Academia to Talk The First 60 Days’
Jessica Rose Spangler
For the first time in the 15-year history of the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association, Pennsylvania calf raisers, as well as those from across the nation, can attend their conference without traveling to the Midwest — it’s coming to Lancaster, Pa., April 4-5.
Dairy farmers and custom calf raisers alike are invited to attend the two-day convention themed “Gold Standards: The First 60 Days.” The convention will be at the Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown Lancaster city.
“There’s just a broad spectrum of, frankly, top notch experts from across the U.S. that are well-known for the first 60 days,” said convention chair Lane Sollenberger. Sollenberger is the manager of Dream Farms in Newburg, Pa., a custom heifer raising facility.
“I really want to emphasize that DCHA isn’t just for contract raisers, which only raise a small percentage of calves,” he continued. “We want dairymen to be right there and learn alongside contract grazers.”
This year’s annual convention is going to focus on the raising of a calf during the first 60 days of life, emphasizing the Gold Standards DCHA has set.
“The standards were developed by a team of producers, contract growers, consultants and industry representatives who surveyed producers, DCHA members and university specialists across the United States. ... As an industry association, it is essential for DCHA to step up and advocate for management practices and performance measures that will drive success in the dairy industry,” reads the organization website, www.calfandheifer.org.
Besides multiple conference breakout sessions with academia and industry professionals, a “wet lab” demonstration will be held Friday morning for all attendees to see. Though not necessarily a “wet” lab this year, the demonstration is titled “Air Quality and Water Bacteria in Pens.”
“Basically we’re bringing in equipment to show what can be done — measure air quality in barns, in pens, to see how good your ventilation is. You can have a barn that’s 150-feet long, but because of how it’s built, the air quality might be different throughout,” Sollenberger said.
“We’re also bringing in a new toy’ for measuring bacteria,” he continued. “For instance, if you’re feeding water out of an old garden hose, the cracks in the hose can have huge amounts of bacteria. You can swab calf buckets, check heifer waters, the list is endless.”
Additionally, attendees will hear Dr. Gregory Edwards, of Zoetis (formally Pfizer), speak on what farmers need to know concerning Food and Drug Administration regulations, specifically antibiotic residue in milk and meat.
Sollenberger pointed out that one key area Edwards will focus on is the labeling of antibiotics: “In the first 60 days, calves are called non-ruminants. You need to look at labels to see meat withdrawal times, which usually aren’t established for non-ruminants.
“We’re also going to talk a lot about what’s expected in terms of records if the FDA comes knocking at your door,” he continued. “What do you do if you’re caught with meat or milk residue? The new penalties are substantial and there’s new levels of compliance.”
Sollenberger pointed out that DCHA does not specifically offer help to producers in the aforementioned circumstances, but “for instance, (Zoetis) does have a compliance division.”
For more information about the conference, including details about the breakout sessions, visit the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s website www.calfandheifer.org.
To register for the DCHA annual conference, visit their website, www.calfandheifer.org. In the “conference” drop-down menu, click on the “2013 conference,” and once the page opens, click on the blue “registration” button. For those without Internet access, or for more information, call 877-HEIFERS.