Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


University researchers help make Wisconsin’s cows happy

Happy cows do indeed come from Wisconsin thanks to a recent web site created by two University of Wisconsin researchers.

Professors in the UW School of Veterinary Medicine Nigel Cook and Kenneth Nordlund have been compiling information regarding dairy farming from studies and cattle clinical trials for over a decade Nordlund said.

All this research was utilized in the construction of a web-based information program launched this past month known as The Dairyland Initiative.


The pair received funding from the Cow Comfort Consortium and grants from the Wisconsin Idea Endowment to build a site that could benefit dairy farmers across America, Cook said.

The Dairyland Initiative aims to assist producers in the dairy industry by providing them with floor plans, photographs and video tours of other more efficient barns.

“The site provides farmers with good ideas about how to space out stalls, where to place water and whether to add more lighting,” Nordlund said.

Any registered dairy farmer in America can use the program for free with their six-digit commercial license number, Cook said. Other interested patrons however will have to shell out $100 for a two year subscription fee to get past the front page of the website.

However, once one has access to the website they have the ability to take virtual tours of energy and space efficient dairy barns, along with testimony from farmers who followed the design advice of Cook and Nordlund.

“There are many sources of information about dairy housing, stall design, and building sizing, but not all of these are technically cow friendly,” Nordlund said.

Before this program was unveiled, it was common for dairy farmers to visit neighboring barns to see how their buildings were constructed, Cook said.

This process would sometimes prove ineffective, because if one barn was designed poorly, another three could be designed the same way, Nordlund said.

“We really hope that dairy farmers will take the time to view the building plans we put together instead of asking their neighbor how they built their old barn,” Cook said.

Nordlund and Cook have conducted research on nearby farms in the hopes of finding the perfect cow containment conditions. 

While the new website should provide a better environment for the
animals, the farmers will benefit from lower construction costs from less extravagant barns. Builders can apply the
information from the program to the creation of barns that promote
health and productivity while remaining economical.

“Construction of cattle facilities through the website will save
money by showing builders blueprints that maximize space and contain
heat,” Nordlund said.

While the idea of a cozy home for cows may not be important to some, it should be noted that the more content a cow is, the more milk it produces, Cook said, and an excess of milk leads to lower milk prices.

“If you check out the farms of the people who we have helped you will notice quite a difference in their cows. The cows are making more milk, they are more active… and these happy cows just make you feel good about yourself,” Cook said.

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