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USACE, USDA to hold public meeting for dairy research facility in Sauk City, Wisconsin

Omaha District
Published April 25, 2023
Updated: April 25, 2023

In partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture and University of Wisconsin-Madison, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District will be hosting a public meeting at the George Culver Community Library in Sauk City, Wisconsin, on May 1, 2023, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. regarding the construction of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center’s new 360-cow research dairy facility in the local area.

This new facility will replace USDFRC’s current facility, constructed to accommodate 325 Holstein cows in 1980. After nearly 44 years of operation, the current facility is outdated according to the current industry standards.  In the 1970s, the average dairy cow was 1,200 pounds, five feet tall, ate 80 pounds of feed per day, and gave 17,000 pounds of milk each year. Today, through genetic selection and attention to efficiency, modern dairy cows weigh approximately 1,600 pounds, over six feet tall, eat about 40% more, and give approximately twice as much milk.

This facility will be unlike any other research dairy globally. This new state-of-the-art research facility will be the only facility in the United States to comprehensively research greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts, how to customize the ration for individual dairy cows, management methods that enhance soil health, and strategies that minimize nutrient losses.

It will feature chambers and specialized feeding systems that measure methane and ammonia gas production, a robotic barn capable of precisely feeding cows within four automated milking systems, as well as the more conventional free stall and tie stall systems found on dairies in the region. The facility will be built on repurposed land owned by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFRC) since 2004, when the Badger Reuse Plan for the former U.S. Army’s Badger Army Ammunition Plant was implemented.

The USDA/ARS planning team conducted a research study and the results from the study concluded that renovations to the existing facility would pose environmental risks to the Wisconsin River and cause concerns for the local community, including more than 80 homes within 1,000 feet of the current facility. Constructing a new facility poses a less expensive and more environmentally practical plan. USDFRC plans to convert the existing facility into a pasture-based heifer development facility and demolish several structures that are unnecessary or too unsafe for use.

To learn more about this project, please join us at:

George Culver Community Library
615 Phillips Blvd.
Sauk City, WI 53583

May 1, 2023
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Jason Harre

Release no. 23-013