Wisconsin Electric Utilities Farm

In 1945, the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Engineering Department and the Wisconsin Utilities Association joined forces to develop a research/demonstration farm to show Wisconsin farmers the most efficient and variety of ways to use electricity. In addition, they demonstrated the advantages of contour farming and crop rotation. One hundred forty-four acres south of Crawford Drive and north of Dunn’s Marsh was purchased from S. A. Mahlkuch and C. C. Johnson. After renovations and the addition of new electrical equipment, the farm was opened to the public in 1948.

After World War II, most Wisconsin farmers had electricity for lighting, milking and pumping water. However, as Lynndon A. Brooks, the manager of the farm from 1950 to 1960 articulated, there were many new tools and methods that had been developed that would greatly expand the use of electricity on a farm and save the farmers both time and money. From 1948 to the mid 1950s thousands of people visited the research farm.  Arial photographs showed that contour farming and rotation of crops was practiced on the nearby farms reducing flooding and increasing crop yields. A brochure shown below demonstrated the many ways to increase efficiency and produce healthier cows and pigs while saving time and money.

By the mid 1950s the number of people visiting the farm diminished primarily because of their success in getting farmers to adapt the many uses of electricity on the farm.  Today, Marborough Park, west of Seminole Highway and a little south of the beltline marks a portion of the old research/demonstration farm.

Here are Some of the Ways Electricity Helps to Reduce Chore Time on the Electric Research Farm

Barn Cleaning

The hard work of barn cleaning is done now by just pushing a button.  Electrically operated barn cleaners convey manure outdoors to the spreader or to a pile in the winter time.  Calf pens are cleaned easily by pushing litter into the gutter so conveyors can pick it up.

Barn Lighting

Experiments are being made in conjunction with the illuminating Engineering Society to determine the proper lighting for safety, efficiency and cleanliness in the dairy barn.


The use of infra-red radiation produced by heat lamps is under observation in brooding chicks and pigs.  Further applications, such as drying new-born livestock and emergency and supplemental heat in cold weather, will be tried.

Cow Trainer

Electrically charged cow trainers, rigged above each stall, teach cows to drop manure into the gutters.  Further advantages of the cow trainers are less labor, greater cleanliness, improved cow comfort, and the possibility of using longer stalls which reduce leg and udder injuries.  (For complete details on the Cow Trainer, see Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station bulletin 483.)

Communication System

An electrical amplifying system makes communication between the home, farm buildings and nearby fields easy, and saves time and wasted effort.

Egg Production

Electricity is used in the laying house for the time-clock control of lighting, for ventilation, and for keeping drinking water at proper temperature in the winter months.

Fence Charger

A fence charger serves the dual purpose of charging the cow trainers and the farm’s electric fences.  Relocating or removing one strand fences of this type is simple when compared with conventional woven wire or four strand fences.

Grain Storage and Processing

Large capacity steel storage bins for grain and ear corn are located adjacent to the grain processing room where an electric motor driven apparatus has been assembled to convey, crush, grind, and mix home grown feeds with commercial supplements for cows and hogs.  The complete mechanization of dairy and hog feed processing eliminates tons of lifting and tends to avoid feed spoilage as fresh feed can be processed frequently.

Crop Drying

The hay mow is equipped with a slatted floor type curing system.  Hay is chopped with a forage harvester and hauled to the barn when partially dry in self unloading wagons.  From the wagon, it is blown into the mow and the drying is completed.  Experiments are being conducted with the use of heated air for drying hay and ear corn.

Hog House

In the permanent type hog house watering troughs are heated with electric elements to prevent freezing.  Concrete walks are used from the hog house to the hog pastures to promote sanitation.  One of the pens has heating cable imbedded in its concrete floor for experimental purposes.  Infra-red heat lamps are used for pig brooding.

Work Shop

The heated work shop, 26 ft. by 26 ft., has a good work bench and hand tools, a cabinet for machine parts and a bolt cabinet with the complete assortment of bolts, nuts, washers, screws, stove bolts, and rivets needed on an ordinary farm.  The electrical equipment consists of an air compressor, electric welder, saw and joiner, power grinder and portable drill.

Water System

The deep well pump provides a year-round frost free supply of water under pressure to all buildings where water is used.

Milk Cooling

The mechanical milk cooler eliminates pumping and waste of water.  It provides rapid and positive temperature reduction for preservation of milk quality.  At the same time the mechanical cooler provides some heat for the milk house in the winter.

Milk House Water Heating

A 50-gallon, pressure type automatic electric water heater, which can be connected to a special low cost “off-peak” circuit, is used to furnish a continuous supply of hot water at closely regulated temperatures.

Milk House Heating

The milk house is equipped with apparatus which permits comparison of various methods of electric room heating.  Electric heating advantages are; it is odorless and fully automatic in operation.

Silo Unloading

The chore of climbing into the silo and pitching down silage is eliminated by an electrically operated silo unloader.  A flip of a switch brings silage down into the feed cart even when the silage is frozen.  A specially designed silage cart with a conveyor bottom is used for feeding.