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Babcock Dairy Store 101

Where We Get Our Name and Our Fame

In the year 1887, a chemist named Stephen M. Babcock arrived on the UW-Madison campus, where he expanded his studies on the chemical composition of milk. Throughout the 1880s, the once-thriving wheat market began to suffer and dairy was seen as an opportunity for Wisconsin and Babcock to refocus energy and resources.

Babcock’s Initial Success

Not long after his arrival on campus, in 1890, Babcock published his discoveries surrounding the compounds found in milk and how to maintain the consistency of usable products by using the Babcock Butterfat Test. Prior to his discovery, manufacturers wasted money, gallons and time with watery and inconsistent dairy which led to instability of the field. Babcock’s findings ensured exponential success for the dairy industry.

The Next Generation of Dairy

The same year Babcock published his findings, he was determined to share his dairying process with bright students, so he renovated the clapboard house on campus into a classroom using scavenged material. Although his class was made up of only two students in its pilot year, it did not deter his passions. Just a year later, his dairy short course had over 75 students, and the University supplied Babcock with a proper classroom setting in 1892.

The new, state-of-the-art building known as Hiram Smith Hall became the nation’s first permanent dairy building. The same year the building was completed, it hosted its largest dairy course yet with standing room only. The school was never meant for profit — solely for education and research — but it ended up producing milk and other dairy products for the greater Madison area in the late 1890s.

Evolution of Wisconsin into America’s Dairyland

By 1920, Wisconsin was pronounced America’s Dairyland as it became the leading producer of all things dairy. To this day, Wisconsin remains one of the nation’s top dairy-producing states. With the help of inventions like the batch freezer and churn machines in the 1920s, commercial ice cream was eventually integrated into production on campus. In 1951, not too long after Wisconsin’s dairy successes, Babcock Hall was built in accomplishment and it remains to this day.


Stephen M. Babcock Arrives on Campus

After working as a teacher and a chemist in New York, Stephen M. Babcock joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison to further his research and teaching endeavors.


Babcock Publishes Butterfat Test Findings

Later named after Babcock, the Babcock Butterfat Test saved dairy farmers time, money and resources by regulating the milk within the early stages of the dairying process.


First Dairying Course

Babcock was determined to share his findings with the next generation and established a classroom with two eager students.


Hiram Smith Hall Built

Hiram Smith Hall became the nations first permanent dairy building and hosted the largest dairy course campus had seen with 75 students.


Babcock Retires from UW-Madison

After years of great work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Babcock decided it was time to step down from his role at the school.


Wisconsin Pronounced as America’s Dairyland

With Wisconsin’s decreasing presence in the wheat industry and exponential increase within the world of dairy, it was clear Wisconsin had earned the title of America’s Dairyland.


Batch Freezer Invented

The batch freezer made commercial production and sale of ice cream possible on a much larger scale.


Department of Husbandry Established

The Department of Husbandry was established and was able to accomplish many things, including the regulation of production of dairy, teaching of dairy and consistency of dairy outcomes.


Babcock Hall and Dairy Store Built

Not only was Babcock Hall built to house dairy research and classes, but it also served as a dairy store to supply campus and surrounding areas with house-made goods.


Department Title Changed to Dairy Science

The department switched over to a more fitting title in 1962 and fully established its name.


Dairy Science, Meat and Animal Science, and Poultry Science Reunited

Many departments across campus realized they could utilize one another’s resources and knowledge, so they joined forces.


Renamed Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

The department received its current name in 2019 and although relatively new, the name has served the department well.


Babcock Dairy Production Plant Renovation

The dairy plant underwent a complete reconstruction to create better resources and facilities to produce its delicious dairy in-house once again.