New Standards Address Animal Welfare for Calves and Heifers

March 21, 2012 08:31 AM

Dairy Calf and Heifer Association’s animal welfare benchmarks are the first for rearing young livestock.

The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association’s (DCHA) recently released Gold Standards III marks the first time a dairy calf organization has addressed animal welfare standards for rearing young dairy livestock.

“Animal welfare is a critical issue of importance to the U.S. dairy industry,” Kansas calf raiser Vance Kells told attendees March 20 at DCHA’s annual conference, held this week in Visalia, Calif.
“As the industry trade association representing replacement animals, we felt it was important for DCHA to publish a set of welfare standards specific to calves and heifers,” added Kells, a DCHA board member and chairman of the Gold Standards III committee.
The Gold Standards III focus on animal welfare for U.S. dairy calves and heifers from birth to freshening. The standards include these essential areas:
• Veterinary involvement
• Colostrum management
• Housing
• Nutrition
• Handling
• Transportation
• Vaccination
• Drug therapy
• Parasite control
• Elective medical procedures
• Euthanasia
DCHA’s Gold Standards III follows two previous sets of production standards released in the past two years. Gold Standards I set production and performance standards for U.S. Holstein calves, from birth to six months old. Its Gold Standards II established standards for U.S. Holstein heifers, from six months of age to freshening.
DCHA developed the standards with input from leading calf specialists, veterinarians, nutritionists, university researchers, calf raisers and other industry experts. DCHA members and nonmembers can find all Gold Standards at

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