By late May 1960 the new dairy barn and milking parlor at the College Farm, which was located on the corner of Cemetery Road and State Highway 35 (later SH 65), was nearing completion. This farm would later be referred to as “Farm 1” and still later as the “Campus Farm”. Construction on the new farm began in May 1959 by building contractors, George Olson and Son, and was completed in September 1960. The dairy barn was a one story structure with truss-framed rafters that did away with the need for internal supporting posts. It measured 38 by 127 feet and contained 50 – six by four foot two inch “comfort stalls”. Barn cleaning was accomplished by an “endless gutter” system, which moved manure to a loading room capable of accommodating a tractor and spreader. At one end of the barn there were 16 individual calf pens and two other pens for up to five calves. There were also two maternity pens separated by a half-wall to eliminate floor drafts from the main part of the barn.
The walls were constructed of “weighlite” concrete blocks with glass block windows. Ceiling vents and exhaust fans were installed to control temperature and humidity. Silage was stored in two 16 by 40 foot stave silos, each equipped with unloaders going directly to the stalls or to a fifty-foot auger type feed bunk, which extended out into a paved outdoor cow yard. Hay was stored in a 92 by 32 foot steel storage shed equipped with a hay-drying duct for mow curing.
The cows were fed on dry feed year-round. A large paved outside cow lot allowed the herd to be outdoors at pasture time. Across the paved area from the main barn was a 32 by 100 foot loafing barn with five bays each opening to the east. This area was set up to house another group of dairy cows in a loose housing system that could be employed in the future. It was anticipated that the university herd would consist of 50 cows in stalls and 25 in loose housing after two to three years with additions to the herd coming from the existing cows.
Two dairy bulls, a number of yearlings, and also beef cattle were to be housed in a separate metal building located just behind the loafing barn with an opening onto paved feedlots to the south.
The milking parlor featured an eight-cow herring-bone system with a clean-in-place glass pipe-line, allowing two operators to milk and feed eight cows every six to ten minutes. The cows could also be milked in the stalls with conventional bucket milkers. This allowed for comparison of the two systems. All farm and herd records were kept in the farm office, which was located adjacent to the milking parlor.
The concept of a “laboratory farm”, the primary purpose of which was instruction (as opposed to research and extension) was accepted from the very beginning of the agriculture program at River Falls. The farm described above was very much in line with this concept with its mix of enterprises and relatively modern technologies, all of which were readily available for student instruction.
That being said, it was probably always an expectation of the administration that the farm be self-supporting. In a statement reported by Pete Kolpack in his master’s thesis, John Langford quoted Art Johnson as follows. “Well, they gave me the job of managing the place. And the understanding in those days was that, in fact, the President told me – he said we had planned on this farm being run with student help as a class project. Well, that wouldn’t work, you know that wouldn’t work, wouldn’t work at any time. So, the next thing was when I came here, they had given that up. Instead they told me that you are to run this farm not as a student proposition, but as a business venture. You have to make it pay its own way. We’ll help you for a while. We’ll pay for a man for awhile, but we expect you to get this down on a footing so it will pay for its own way. Well, that was a pretty rough job. There was nothing to make it pay with.”
The new Laboratory and Demonstration Farm also featured several other structures along with 220 acres of land. A 50 by 120 foot concrete block Pavilion served as the hub of the new facility, and was used for classroom teaching as well as for farm shows, stock sales and other attractions. The arena area was 50 by 90 feet and included a washing stall for fitting livestock. The building was insulated and featured two heating plants, one serving the arena and the other serving the classrooms and student areas.
Electrical metering and lighting was arranged in banks of four that could be set up in series or in parallel circuits to provide light intensity control. There was also a modern, well-equipped farmhouse and garage, which had been moved to the farm from the main campus.
In addition to the Pavilion, the new farm was also served by the following structures.
Barn, including a spreader shed……30 by 176 foot
Machine shed……40 by 100 foot
Loose housing shed……32 by 100 foot
Hog house……24 by 72 foot
Poultry house……20 by 88 foot
Sheep barn……24 by 40 foot
Brooder House……20 by 50 foot
Steel building for beef, bull and young stock housing……32 by 140 foot
Other special features of the new buildings included water service fed by frost proof hydrants, switches for electrical isolation of each structure, grounding for lightening protection, and ample parking in front of the pavilion.
Saturday October 29, 1960 marked the dedication of the new Laboratory and Demonstration Farm. The principal speaker was J.P. Schaenzer, an agricultural engineer with the Rural Electrification Administration of the U.S.D.A. He spoke of the increasingly important role of education in the future of farming and agriculture. Citing statistics with respect to financial returns. He also discussed the value to the nation of work of an experimental and educational nature to be done on farms such as the one being dedicated at River Falls.
Other speakers included Eugene R. McPhee, Director of State Colleges, and Forrest McCue, chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, WEC. The WEC contributed a grant of $15,000 to the college farm for the installation of ideal wiring.
The dedication of the farm was the concluding event in the annual Rural Life Conference, which was sponsored jointly by the School of Agriculture, and the Department of Social Sciences at the University. The conference consisted of an exhibition of amateur art on Thursday and a “Wisconsin Resources Development Day” on Friday, featuring talks by Dr. Earl M. Hildebrand of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, G.F. Hanson, state geologist, and David Carley, Director of the Wisconsin Department of Development.
Both major and minor modifications to the original facility were made over the years. Some of the changes were motivated by improvements in dairy and feeding technology; others were made to correct operational problems such as suboptimal ventilation, lighting, and “stray voltage”.
In June of 1961, the college dairy herd consisting of 38 cows reached the coveted 500 pounds of butter fat mark. The Farm Manager, Byron Koch, received a trophy and a certificate at the Pierce County Dairy Recognition Dinner held at Prescott High School on Sept 30, 1961.
In 1971 a new Surge milking system was installed along with a newly remodeled milking parlor. The old poultry house was converted into a calf-rearing barn and a horse barn was constructed with 21 tie stalls and 9 box stalls.
In the late 1960s the farm was expanded to include horse barns and an indoor riding arena. In 2003 a 100 stall young horse housing facility was constructed using funds donated by a former student in the summer horse institute program, Jennifer Easton of Afton, MN.
In 2002 the dairy herd was relocated to the new Dairy Learning Center (DLC) on the Mann Valley Farm.