The Dairyland Initiative for Cow Comfort

June 7, 2011 05:55 AM

The latest information on “cow comfort” and healthy heifer housing has become even more accessible.

The Dairyland Initiative, developed by veterinarians Drs. Nigel Cook and Ken Nordlund at the School of Veterinary Medicine, and coordinated by Dr. Becky Brotzman, combines the most relevant research in dairy cattle health, production and behavior with years of field experience in housing design into a web-based information center and building plan assessment program. is a comprehensive resource, beginning with prioritized lists of questions and answers, called the ‘Wisconsin Blueprint', for adult cattle and heifer housing, utilizing the most up-to-date standards for design that keep dairy cow health, production and well-being in mind. Spreadsheet tools aid farmers in decision making and facility needs planning. 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. Wisconsin dairy producers may submit new or remodel barn plans for a ‘Cow (calf/heifer) Comfort Risk Assessment,’ performed for a modest fee. Recommendations are returned to the management team, pointing out areas of high risk to consider changing before the barn is built.
Participating lenders and construction companies are listed to connect farmers with businesses and people that believe in the benefit of welfare-friendly dairy cattle housing. Participating businesses are invited to share in discussing and improving the housing guidelines and standards through 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 additional virtual tours and more partial budgeting tools for new and remodel projects. Additionally, more research is being conducted through the Initiative to better define current and create new, solid recommendations on dairy cattle housing, from calf to transition cow barns.
A two-year web access subscription is $100. However, many people may sign on for free, thanks to generous sponsors. Wisconsin dairy producers may log in to the Initiative website free of charge, as well as Wisconsin extension and education personnel and Wisconsin agricultural lenders. All construction professionals, from engineers to builders to suppliers, may register for free through the summer of 2012. All North American veterinarians may receive a free two-year subscription to the website by contacting their Pfizer Animal Health representative.
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 and industry sponsors.

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