Science & Technology

Many Moos

UW–Madison Archives, #S11444

This line-up of Holsteins represents a family portrait of sorts: six generations of cows in the UW’s dairy herd, photographed in the spring of 1928.

How can we tell they’re six generations of the same family? The names are one hint. Convention dictates that a cow’s name should begin with the same letter as her mother’s. (Her full name would also include the name of her sire and her herd.)

Another hint is that it said so on the back of the photograph. But never mind that.

The UW has owned cattle since at least the 1860s, when it established its Experimental Farm. And though specific instruction in dairying didn’t begin until 1890, the university was already conducting experiments in breeding before it offered its first short course.

In 1950, the university pushed the science of dairy breeding forward when it produced the world’s first calf born through egg transplant. It’s just one example of the seminal research done at the UW. (Ovular, too!)

Published in the Winter 2013 issue


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