Wisconsin dairy producers now have free access to the latest recommendations on dairy cattle facility design. The Dairyland Initiative, developed by Drs. Nigel Cook and Ken Nordlund at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, combines the most relevant research in health, production and behavior with years of field experience in housing design into a web-based information center and building plan assessment program.

TheDairylandInitiative.vetmed.wisc.edu is a comprehensive resource, beginning with building decision trees – called the “Wisconsin Blueprint” – for adult cattle and heifer housing, utilizing the most up-to-date standards for design. Virtual tours provide interactive guides of new facilities, including floor plans, stall dimensions, photographs, key performance measures and streaming video, providing farmers and their teams the opportunity to see and decide what to build from the comfort of the farm office. Barn plans may then be submitted for a “Cow or Calf Comfort Risk Assessment,” performed for a nominal fee. Recommendations are returned to the management team, pointing out areas of high risk to consider changing before the barn is built.

Participating lenders, construction companies and consultants are listed to connect farmers with businesses and people that believe in the benefit of welfare-friendly dairy cattle housing. Participating businesses will be invited to share in discussing and improving the housing guidelines and standards through annual meetings and social media venues.

As a web-based resource, The Dairyland Initiative is continually updated as new ideas and research become available. Future planned additions include cost benefit analyses and more partial budgeting tools for new and remodeled projects. Farms that build using the standards in the “Wisconsin Blueprint” and that complete a Cow or Calf Comfort Risk Assessment may have health, production and financial performance monitored and evaluated to help develop building standards and planning tools.

Wisconsin dairy farmers have free access to the website by logging on with the first six-digits of their dairy producer license number. Consulting professionals and farmers outside of Wisconsin may purchase a two-year web access subscription for $100.


The Dairyland Initiative is a program of the Food Animal Production Medicine Section at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, supported by the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.

—From UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine news release