Tucked in a bend of the Wisconsin River about 30 miles north of Madison, the field facilities of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center are a catalog of current dairy technology. The facilities include three types of cow barns, calf and heifer housing, a milking center, research and hospital areas, and a feed center flanked by a dozen silos. The facilities were designed for 300 milk cows plus replacements. Calves for the original herd were produced largely through embryo transplantation – a sophisticated technique which allows the production of many calves of the same age and genetic makeup from a single cow.
The Dairy Forage Research Center is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and other land grant universities. It focuses on problems that are national in scope and that limit effective and efficient use of forage for milk production. It coordinates multidisciplinary research involving engineers, microbiologists, chemists and plant and animal scientists at locations in five states. The research is directed toward increasing yields and quality of forage grown and harvested, reducing losses associated with harvesting, storage and feeding, and maximizing use of forage nutrients by the dairy cow for milk production.
The U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center Field Facility functions under the umbrella of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, Agricultural Research Stations. The UW-Madison provided the center’s foundation herd and uses revenues from the farming operation to offset operating costs and to pay the state employees who work at the farm. The dairy herd and research facility are also available for research by the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and LIfe Sciences.
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