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A Look At The UW-Madison’s Integrated Dairy Facility Program

Dairy Industry Needs: Wisconsin dairying is in the midst of major restructuring, brought on by changes in national and international competition, new federal marketing and pricing programs, and challenges of mature production and processing infrastructures. If the state”s dairy industry is to prosper and expand, it must find new ways to produce milk at prices competitive with other regions of the country and the world, and do that while protecting environmental quality and enhancing agriculture”s natural-resource base.

Research Needs: Current dairy-cattle research facilities are outmoded, undersized and overcrowded. With fewer cattle, reliable research results take longer to obtain. The limited herd size also forces research to consist primarily of short-term trials. While trials of this type are essential in developing new concepts and testing novel ideas, they do not provide data that lead quickly to sound new practices or adequate economic information.

Research Priorities:
1. Reduce production costs to improve profitability for dairy producers and add value for consumers
2. Improve animal well-being, reduce stress
3. Enhance environmental stewardship
4. Develop strategies to promote a healthy work place
5. Promote production of quality dairy foods and develop pre-harvest food safety practices

Examples of research possible with improved facilities:
Lower heifer production costs and improve lifetime production
Reduce N, P, S and K manure loads without sacrificing production
Develop nutritional strategies to improve reproduction
Determine value of new crop types (silage corn or biotech alfalfa) to both production and profitability
Combine genetic and nutritional strategies to optimize protein and fat ratio for cheese production

Project Scope:
Single-herd concept
– Dairy herds at Arlington/Madison and Marshfield will be managed as a single herd, with mature milking cows at Arlington/Madison, and heifers and first-lactation animals at Marshfield. Animals will be moved between sites as research and instructional programs require.
Emphasis on research – The project emphasizes research needs rather than demonstration. In some studies, for example, cattle must be carefully monitored at all times and must be held in individual stalls. Even though the industry is moving away from tie-stall barns, this project will include some tie stalls because they work best for certain research projects.

Renovation and enlargement of facilities will take place in two phases.

Phase I funding will be sought as part of the 2001-03 state biennial budget. It consists of a 320-head heifer barn, feed storage and handling, manure and animal handling facilities, and outreach and teaching space. A $1.2 million land exchange between the UW and the City of Marshfield will provide a new 600-acre location for these facilities.

Phase II funding will be sought in the 2003-05 state biennial budget, and includes a 250-head heifer barn, a free-stall barn and milking parlor for 128-head of first lactation cows, and expanded feed- and manure-handling facilities, all at the new land.

Phase II funding will be sought in the 2003-05 state biennial budget for construction of a 348-head free-stall barn, milking parlor, dry-cow barn, feed- and manure-handling facilities and renovation and possible expansion of existing tie stall barn. The project will also include renovation of the animal hospital and of the dairy cattle center on the UW-Madison campus.

Some components of the Arlington/Madison dairy facilities upgrade are already underway. Most notable here are construction of a 100-head free-stall barn and associated manure-handling facilities.

Funding for the Integrated Dairy Facility Program
Biennium State Funds Non-State Funds Total
Current $1.2 million $1.2 million

Phase I $0.9 million $0.9 million $1.8 million

Phase II $4.2 million $2.8 million $7 million
Total $5.1 million $4.9 million $10 million