University of Wisconsin–Madison

Happier Cows, Healthier People

A growing population is placing greater demands than ever on our food supply. But along with that increased demand is a greater desire to know where our food comes from, and an awareness of the conditions under which it is produced. Ideally, consumers want to be assured that our food is made as humanely and as safely as possible. Thanks to work being done by UW-Madison faculty, The Dairyland Initiative is working to help farmers raise healthier cows, making Wisconsin dairies more efficient and productive.

Nigel Cook of the School of Veterinary Medicine spearheaded the program based on years of field experience and research on dairy cattle production, behavior, and biology. This web-based tool unites farmers, consultants, lenders, and builders, providing insights into animal behavior and output so that dairy owners can create the conditions that will optimize their herds’ comfort and wellbeing and sustainably improve milk production.

Major companies in the dairy industry have taken note of The Dairyland Initiative’s success in Wisconsin, and have lent their support to expand access to its web-based resources. The initiative has grown substantially, helping farmers nationally and internationally to plan new facilities and systems that help reduce injury and disease, improve animal welfare, and lead to increased milk production and improved profitability.

Farmers in every nation are already struggling to solve problems of animal health and welfare, drought, high temperatures, and many more issues that put our nation and the world at risk for food scarcity. The Dairyland Initiative and other agricultural practices that have their roots in Wisconsin will play a vital role in how we continue to feed people at home and across the globe.

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