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Dairy Learning Center set to open in fall

February 5, 2007

With River Falls having a mild winter this year, the University is making steady progress on the new Dairy Learning Center. The center is projected to open fall of 2007. Original plans for the center indicated that the facility would not be open until fall of 2008, but warmer temperatures have allowed work to advance ahead of schedule.

The Dairy Learning Center is being built for the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Science students and dairy science majors. The new facility will hold 100 adult cows, which is an additional 30 cows that the old farm could not maintain. It is located on the east side of Lab Farm 2, which is approximately two miles north of River Falls on the Mann Valley Farm.

Steve Kelm, chair of the UW-River Falls department of animal and food sciences, said that he “anticipates increased enrollment” with the opening of the facility in the fall. The old lab farm was too “labor intensive” and required extra faculty assistance, he said.

The new Dairy Learning Center is equipped with state of the art technology, which allows faculty and students to concentrate on learning new management techniques and research trials.

The building holds two 25-student capacity classrooms with a divider in between, which can be opened for larger meetings. According to the Oct. 23, 2006 press release and the College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Science homepage, the center will include a “compost bedded pack barn for approximately 100 lactating cows, a BouMatic double-6 herringbone parlor, which will increase milking speed and efficiency, a special needs barn, calf barn, heifer barn, hay barn, bunker silos, feed shed and machine shed.”

The Dairy Learning Center will also include a “StepMetrix lameness detection system,” with sensors that are capable of monitoring weight distribution and research bays with Calan gates, which allows the herd to be split into groups by reader identification tags.

“I think the new Dairy Center is great for CAFES students because it teaches them new techniques with brand new technologies,” CAFES student Kendal Liebzeit said.

The new facility will attract incoming freshmen because of the technology and the opportunity to increase the efficiency in managing a farm.

“The Center is great because students are benefiting without having to pay for the facility,” Liebzeit said.

The funding is coming from the state commissioning board, companies, businesses and individuals.

The Oct. 23, 2006 press release also indicates that UWRF is “well known in the U.S. dairy industry as having one of the three largest dairy science undergraduate programs in the country with about 110 dairy science majors. In addition, the program has more than 450 animal science majors.”