In 2003, the Davis Family opened Northern Plains Dairy, milking 3,000 Jersey cows just southwest of St. Peter, Minnesota. They expanded in 2008 with the construction of New Sweden Dairy, which houses another 3,200 Jersey cows in addition to the academic facilities of the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center. At New Sweden Dairy, cows are milked in a 72-stall rotary parlor and housed in a sand-bedded, cross-ventilated free-stall barn. A third dairy was built in 2013, similar in size but unique with free-stall and feeding area under one roof and an anaerobic digester producing energy and bedded solids. New Sweden Dairy serves as the transition facility for the three sites, housing all the cows that have recently calved, as well as those waiting to calve and any other cows needing special attention. Over 10,000 calves are born at New Sweden each year.
University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Davis Family joined forces to create a unique partnership between a public university and a private dairy. The visionary for the project was Dr. John Fetrow, Professor Emeritus. The result is the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center (DEC), an academic facility and program of education and research that is merged into a commercial dairy committed to producing high-quality milk, economic success, environmental stewardship and outstanding animal welfare. The academic space is built into the dairy itself, incorporating classrooms, research and teaching labs, offices, and dormitory space into the same building that houses the dairy’s management offices and under the same roof as the whole dairy. The support of the Davis Family has allowed the UMN CVM to educate more than 450 veterinary students from Minnesota and around the world in this unique setting. In addition, over 10,000 visitors have toured the site to learn about modern dairy practices. The Davis Family’s generosity and commitment to this vision continues to have a tremendous impact on dairy veterinary education and the dairy industry in general.
Ownership of the dairies transitioned to Trident Dairies, LLC. in 2022.