The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) has released its third set of “Gold Standards” for dairy calf and heifer development in the United States.

The new standards address animal welfare for dairy calves and heifers from birth to freshening across the United States. This is the third consecutive year that DCHA has developed and published a set of standards. The first and second sets dealt with production standards for pre-weaned and post-weaned heifers, respectively. All three sets of standards can be found at

“Animal welfare is a critical issue of importance to the U.S. dairy industry,” says Vance Kells, Satanta, Kan., DCHA board member and chairman of the Gold Standards III committee. “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.”

The Gold Standards III address veterinary involvement, colostrum management, housing, nutrition, handling, transportation, vaccination, drug therapy, parasite control, elective medical procedures and euthanasia. Kells points out that while there is overlap between the new standards and the previous Gold Standards I and II production standards, the new set is written specifically from the standpoint of animal welfare. “What we find in virtually all cases is that production practices that keep the animals’ best welfare interests in mind also result in the best production outcomes,” he says.

The new standards were introduced at the annual conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners in St. Louis, Mo., underscoring the important role that veterinarians play in ensuring animal welfare.

About DCHA
The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association is an organization of calf and heifer growers partnered with allied industry and academia who are dedicated to growing high-quality dairy calves and replacement heifers. DCHA's objectives include: providing educational programs and professional development opportunities for producers and allied industry; developing a communication network for dairy calf and heifer growers, dairy producers and allied industry; establishing business and ethical standards for the industry; and enhancing the profitability of member growers and the dairy industry they serve.