On May 20, the 84 cows that called the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Cattle Center home, were loaded up and moved in with the 500 cows at the Dairy Cattle Research Center at Arlington. Two weeks later, work began to remodel the DCC which was built in 1956.
The $3.5 million renovation project involved keeping the footprint of the building the same. The inside was gutted and old silos were torn down. The renovation includes the following: a new double-6 herringbone milking parlor generously donated by BouMatic Inc., evaporative cooling ventilation system, 84 tie-stalls 49-inches wide and 72-inches long, two 18' x 60' silos, grain bins, feed mixing equipment, a manure handling system, teaching arena and an elevator.
There is also a cow yard where cows are let out twice daily after milking for exercise. Anyone driving or walking by on University Avenue can see Holstein cows exercising in downtown Madison.
"An upgrade was needed to provide better ventilation and living conditions for the cattle," explains Kent Weigel, UW-Madison Dairy Science professor and department chairperson.
The remodelled facility was designed by BWZ Architects of Madison with help from Weigel, Mike Peters who is herd manager at the DCC and is in charge of the dairy herds at Arlington and Marshfield Agricultural Research Stations, and Nigel Cook, DVM, who is a veterinarian and assistant professor at UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
Cows began moving back to the DCC as construction was being completed in late January and early February.
In the new barn, there are 28 tie-stalls in one area and 56 tie-stalls in an adjacent area. Each cow has her own stall.
"For teaching, tie-stalls work best," Weigel explains. "We also do experiments and we need to measure feed intakes. A barn card above each cow makes it easy for workers, students and professors, to see what experiment the cow is involved in."
To maximize cow comfort, cows lie on gel-filled mattresses donated by Promat Inc.
There are several wireless internet access points located throughout the barn and milking parlor, "So when you are teaching, everyone can connect to the internet," Peters explains.
The DCC is staffed primarily by undergraduate students including two student coordinators who live on the second floor above the DCC.
The DCC is used primarily for teaching. There are 15 dairy science and Farm and Industry Short Course classes in addition to vet student classes held at the DCC. There are also many intensive research projects being conducted.
"Having a dairy farm on campus is a unique feature," Weigel says. "There are only a couple other universities in the country with a dairy farm located right on campus," he notes. "In most cases these schools have farms located away from the campus. This is a valuable resource to our university. Students don't have to travel a half hour to a farm. It's right here. That's pretty nice."
Milk from the DCC is sold to Foremost Farms.
"Milk from here also goes to Babcock Hall (located just down the street) on days they need it," Weigel says. "That's where they make Babcock Ice Cream."
An open house for the community to see the newly completed DCC will be held Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. Refreshments will be served. The public is invited to attend. The DCC is located next to the Stock Pavilion on Babcock Drive and just off Observatory Drive. The Badger Dairy Club is hosting the 16th Badger Invitation Cow Sale on the same day in the Stock Pavilion (see related article on Page 12).
"We hope visitors will come take a tour and see what the new facility looks like, enjoy some refreshments and walk over to the Stock Pavilion for the sale," Wiegel says.
Other tours will also be available. To arrange a tour or find out more information, you can call the Dairy Science Department at 608-263-3308.