Calf Care

Vickie Franken enjoys camaraderie of Dairy Calf & Heifer Assn.

2014-03-20T10:45:00Z Vickie Franken enjoys camaraderie of Dairy Calf & Heifer Assn.By ANDREA JOHNSON, Minnesota Farm Guide Assistant Editor Minnesota Farm Guide

A Southerland, Iowa dairy heifer raiser wants producers to know there is a good conference nearby for all types of dairy and beef producers.

Vickie Franken, who farms about 50 miles south of Worthington, Iowa, is conference chair for the upcoming Dairy Calf & Heifer Association (DCHA) Conference.

The event is scheduled for April 1-3 in Green Bay, Wis. at the Hyatt on Main hotel.

The conference is unique because it is hosted and planned by calf and heifer growers. They select topics based on questions they’ve had, and they tour farms each afternoon of the conference.

Franken said she and her husband have been involved with the DCHA since they began offering conferences about 18 years ago.

Way back then, “We were told there was going to be a meeting in Atlanta, Ga., with the thought this would be something new and different,” said Franken in a recent phone interview. “There really was nothing for people involved in the heifer raising industry.”

Over the past 18 years, the Frankens have only missed one conference – due to “Iowa mud,” that didn’t allow them to leave the calves to the care of others.

Today, Franken serves as secretary/treasurer of the group, and she thinks the 2014 DCHA conference can be a great help to many farmers.

“This year, the conference is right in our backyard, and I would very much encourage Minnesota people to drive, to come,” she said. “It’s such easy access, and this is probably among the best agendas that we’ve ever had.”

With the theme, “Be a Driver of Change,” the 2014 conference includes a keynote address by former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Donald Driver as well as a networking reception at Lambeau Field. A Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Lambeau field tour is included in the conference admission cost.

“One of the greatest benefits we’ve found is the networking ability we have meeting with other producers as well as industry people – to just learn from each other,” she said.

“In some ways, some of us consider this a little bit of a family reunion. The family part is you develop trust relationships and therefore you are able to bounce a lot of ideas off one another, and take a lot of those things back home.

“Perhaps you have something you are doing that people can learn from you.”

Concurrent manager and employee sessions for April 1-3 will include sessions on calf health, housing, feed management, employee leadership, use of telemedicine in disease surveillance, federal policy and genetic trends.

“There is something for everybody here,” she said. “As I’ve gone through this and looked for myself, it’s going to really be hard for me to decide on which sessions to attend, because I know I could learn a lot from both.”

Tours will include stops at AI facilities, dairy calf and heifer farms, and feed and nutrition sites.

Franken is especially excited about the role of Filament Marketing, LLC providing executive services. The dairy and livestock industry marketing and management firm came up with the idea of inviting Driver to speak to the group.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, and his life and his story have so many parallels with us in the industry, and all of the changes that continually occur,” said Franken. “We’re really excited about that.”

To learn more about this event, Franken asks people to call 855-400-3242, email, or visit for information.

“I’m hoping a lot of producers come,” she said. “Hopefully this is going to be a really good break for everybody to get outside of the box and do something really good for themselves too.”

Copyright 2016 Minnesota Farm Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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