The Dairyland Initiative, a University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine outreach program that works with dairy farmers to optimize cow comfort, health and milk production, has received a $50,000 grant from the Dean Foods Foundation to make its web-based resources available at no cost to dairy farmers across the country.
"The Dairyland Initiative operates under the well-established premise that dairy cows produce at the highest levels when they're immersed in an environment that accommodates their comfort needs," said Nigel Cook, University of Wisconsin professor of food animal production medicine.
"We intended to create a resource where, in one location, dairy producers can find all the information they need to build welfare-friendly facilities for their cattle. Three years later, we can make this resource available to all U.S. dairy farms, free of charge," Cook said.
The Dairyland Initiative delivers building plan assessments and other valuable information based on the latest dairy animal research and years of collective field experience in dairy housing.
Dairy farmers can take advantage of The Dairyland Initiative's services through consultations, workshops and Web-based tools. Previously, Wisconsin farmers could access the website for free while those outside of the state paid a nominal fee. The grant will help make the website available at no cost to farmers and university extension programs nationwide for two years.
"The grant will remove a significant barrier to use of the program outside of Wisconsin," added Ken Nordlund, clinical professor of food animal production medicine. "While different climates will dictate some differences in how dairy cattle are housed, the concepts behind the 'Wisconsin Blueprint' recommendations of our website address the physical and social needs of calves, heifers and cows no matter the location."
The Dairyland Initiative receives financial and networking support from the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and their foundation as well as donations from several other sponsors.