Babcock Dairy started with Dr. Steven Babcock’s ground-breaking butterfat test, which paved the way for future dairy research at UW-Madison and beyond.

Research Developments

The year was 1890 when Dr. Steven Babcock conducted his ground-breaking butterfat test right here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This paved the way for higher standards in milk quality, and reduced the practice of watering down milk. In addition, his research in agriculture chemistry created the basis for the nation’s first food science program.

As the dairy school and industry expanded in Wisconsin, the need for a new facility arose. Thus, in 1951, Babcock Hall was constructed and accommodated food science labs, classrooms, and most notably, the dairy plant we have today. Since then, several other revolutionary nutritional discoveries have been made at UW’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including Vitamin A and B Complexes, irradiating foods to enhance Vitamin D content to virtually eliminate Rickets, methods to iodize salt to greatly improve thyroid help and research that has helped treat a range of diseases including anemia.


1887: 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.

1890: 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.

1890: First Dairying Course

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

1913: 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.

1951: 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.

2022: 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.