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Dairy research facility renovations underway

January 10, 2018 — 

Thanks to critical investment from the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM), the dairy research facility located at Glenlea Research Station is undergoing much-needed renovations and equipment upgrades. This important donation by DFM has helped leverage a $1.4 million contribution from the governments of Manitoba and Canada through Growing Forward 2, allowing the University to continue its important research in the areas of animal nutrition, health and welfare, and provide students with hands-on learning in state-of-the-art facilities.

This new facility, whose design was guided by a steering committee that included representatives from Manitoba Agriculture and DFM, replaces the circa 1960’s tie-stall dairy facility at Glenlea which no longer reflects modern dairy production techniques. The planned 60-cow operation will feature a robotic milking system, an automated feeding system, dedicated spaces for calves and above-ground manure storage. Researchers will be able to individually manage multiple groups of animals in a free-stall setting. A dedicated metabolism unit will enable intensive studies of nutrient intake and microbial diversity without needing to move the animals off-site.

“A new facility representative of Manitoba’s modern dairy industry not only gives us an excellent whole-system ruminant production environment, but will also enable us to attract research investment and the next generation of young scientists,” said Dr. Kees Plaizier, dairy scientist and professor in the Department of Animal Science.

Proposed barn layout of Glenlea Research Station Dairy Facility

The milking system will include extra milk collection tanks that will permit researchers to conduct research from production through to processing, allowing for “identity-preserved” and traceable research programs in dairy product development, and and support the growth of value-added dairy processing in Manitoba.

The dairy research unit has long been an essential facility for students interested in acquiring hands-on experience with large animals and experience in a modern dairy production system. Going forward, the Faculty will be developing an expanded experiential learning component centred around the Glenlea Research Station’s systems.

“More and more of our students are no longer from the farm, and so it’s critical that they get experience in safe livestock handling and animal health and welfare,” said Plaizier. “Our goal is to prepare graduates ready to enter Manitoba’s dairy industry.”

The Glenlea dairy has been a popular public education component for visitors to the Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre. The new facility will enhance teaching and outreach through a planned viewing gallery and public exhibit space, and provide visitors with a rare opportunity to engage with modern dairy production.

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