Fun Farm Friends - Cows

University of Wisconsin and the Dairy Industry

The University of Wisconsin (UW) has been a longstanding supportive partner of dairy farmers all across Wisconsin. The focus here is on the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW Madison.

The Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences has evolved over time to where it is today. 

Its evolution is fascinating. 

The first session of the Wisconsin state territorial legislature met in the building shown above (now renovated) in Belmont, Wisconsin between October and December  1836. It passed an act for the “establishment of the “Wisconsin University, named 36 trustees. But that’s all it did on this subject.  

The second session of the legislature met between November 1837 and January 1838 in Burlington  which at the time was in the Wisconsin Territory. Burlington  became the territorial capital pending erection of a capitol in Madison. Construction had begun in 1837 at the site of the present capitol.

This second session passed an act that directed “the University of the Territory of Wisconsin (be)  established at or near Madison.” Madison then became the territorial capital in 1838. As an aside, the Iowa Territory was created also in 1838 at which time Burlington fell within its boundaries.

Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Nothing significant was done with regard to establishing the university until 1848. Reuben Gold Thwaites, in his fabulous “History of the University of Wisconsin” indicates the university was known as the “Wisconsin University.” By legislative act it became a state university.

The first state governor approved the university as the University of Wisconsin (UW) in 1848. the first class met in 1849. 

Then, in 1862 the US Congress established a national network of colleges devoted to agriculture and mechanics in 1862. These were known as Morrill Land Grant Act colleges. The net result was the state legislature designated the UW a land-grant institution in 1866. This is an important fact to note.

Professors and research people at UW achieved significant results early on. 

  • William a. henry came to UW in 1881 as professor botany and agriculture. He founded and became director of agricultural experimentation in 1887. In 1880 he became  the first dean of the UW College of Agriculture. It would be officially established in 1889.
  • Franklin H. King was a professor of agricultural physics at UW-Madison from 1888-1902. He focused on soil physics; i.e., the nature and properties of soil including soil fertility. He is well known for designing the cylindrical storage silo to reduce soil spoilage. 
  • Stephen Babcock came to UW in 1887 as professor of agricultural chemistry and served as chief chemist of the Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1890 he perfected the Babcock test, a device to measure the fat content of milk. He also worked on an apparatus for the pasteurization of milk. 
  • Harold  C. Taylor was an agricultural economist. He established the Department of Agricultural Economics IN 1909, the first of its kind in the nation.

I’d like to focus your attention on how the university became  longstanding supportive partner of dairy farmers across the state.

To be continued …..