Professor William George Bickert

Feb. 22, 2017

William George Bickert of DeWitt, who served MSU for 45 years as a professor, extension educator, researcher, and mentor of agricultural engineering, died Feb. 1, 2017, at his home after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

He was born April 9, 1937.

Early in his career he taught courses in the area of agricultural electrification. During the early 1970s, he and a team of graduate students developed the first automatic milking machine detacher (patented) and other milking parlor innovations that reduced the drudgery of milking cows and increased per person cow milking productivity three fold. In addition to human benefits, the automatic detacher benefited cows as well since over or under milking was reduced.

Throughout the 1980s, Bickert pioneered strategies and designs for naturally ventilated freestall facilities and transition cow housing, which included overall facility layout, freestall environment, stall design, and stall base options. Each of these developments resulted in increased cow health and producer profitability. 

Also in the 1980s, he helped MSU found the Michigan Ag Expo, which has gone on to be the largest agricultural exposition in the region. Bickert served as the chairman of Michigan Ag Expo until 1994. 

He was a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), where he served on many dairy housing related technical committees. He was widely published in ASABE, The Merck Veterinary Manual as well as a regular contributor in the popular dairy press.

Read more on William Bickert. 

His funeral was Feb. 4 at the Catholic Community of St. Jude in DeWitt. The family was served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, DeWitt Chapel. Condolences may be shared at