Madison, WI – When the builder finishes a new dairy facility and cows enter the new barn, both the producer and the lender have to live with the consequences. Poor facilities lead to poor results, and that can put the cow in harm’s way and the producer at risk of not servicing his/her loan.

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, facility needs planning, and partial budgeting. Virtual tours provide interactive guides of new facilities, including floor plans, stall dimensions, photographs, key performance measures, and streaming video, providing farmers and their management 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 are listed to connect farmers with businesses and people that believe in the benefit of welfare-friendly dairy cattle housing. Ag lenders 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 newborn calf to transition cow barns.

A two-year web access subscription is $100. However, agricultural lenders everywhere may obtain a free log-in simply by registering on the website. Registered lenders will be listed on the website’s directory page for free as well.

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 generous industry sponsors.