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UW cows on campus are getting an updated home

January 14, 2012

The home of the dairy cows on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus is getting a long-awaited update. In May, the university will undertake a $3 million remodeling of the Dairy Cattle Center on Linden Drive.

The remodeled facilities will provide better cooling and ventilation and bigger, more comfortable stalls and enhanced learning opportunities than are possible in the existing 56-year-old setup, says Kent Weigel, chair of the dairy science department. Facilities will be shared by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine, which recently combined their herds.

“While we use it for research, it is primarily a teaching barn,” Weigel says. “Our dairy science undergraduates may go through it 30-40 times in a semester depending on what classes and labs they’re taking, and we typically have 85 or so undergrad students enrolled in our program.”

The plans call for replacing the milking parlor – a popular stop for campus visitors – with a new, larger parlor located on the east end of building, as well as replacing the current animal stalls with 82 larger, padded stalls.

Three 80-foot-tall feed storage silos will take the place of the six smaller silos currently on site. The project will also add a new, more efficient manure-handling system and water-chilled power fan ventilation. An existing feed storage area will be converted to a teaching arena. The project will also allow for classroom and office space.

The project will not involve the nearby historic University of Wisconsin Dairy Barn, which is no longer used for dairy teaching or research.

The completion of the project later this year will mark the end of an effort to upgrade all of the university’s dairy cattle facilities. Earlier phases involved new construction at the Arlington and Marshfield Agricultural Research Stations.

“Having a dairy herd in town is rather unique. I think it shows the importance of dairy science here,” Weigel says. “And having the cows on campus is a great recruiting tool. Students don’t have to travel off campus to take part in labs and live animal instruction.”