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Students, staff get acclimated to DLC

November 20, 2008

UW-River Falls students are adapting to the new equipment at their disposal at the Dairy Learning Center, which opened a little over one year ago. There were initial difficulties involved with getting used to the new facility. However, things have improved over the last year and any initial problems have been addressed.

“So far everything I’ve heard about the facility now has been good,” College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Chair Laura Walsh said.

While some of the difficulties involved technical problems, the biggest hurdles largely involved just getting used to the new equipment which students have done over the last year.

“I would certainly say everyone has a better idea of the new routine,” Animal and Food Science Chair Steve Kelm said.

Even new students at the Learning Center are picking up on technology they potentially have not worked with before.

“I lived and worked on farms before my college experience, but they were tie stall barns. The tie stalls are a lot more work because we only milked six at a time instead of the twelve at the lab farm. It does take a while to get used to the new way of milking, but it is like that every time you go to work on a different farm,” student Sarah Alberts said.

Initially uncomfortable with the new parlor, the cows have also gotten used to the new facilities. 

According to Kelm, however, this was an entirely expected occurrence, stating that any kind of animal will need at least a little time to adjust to a change of location.

There were also a few issues at first with things such as pipe problems and panels that were too small for calves. However, in the time since the Center’s opening there has been ample to address the problems by repairing or replacing things as necessary.

“On the technical side, most of the issues we could have run into have been taken care of,” Kelm said.

According to animal science professor Larry Baumann, there are 25 students employed at the Dairy Learning Center and may work as many as five to 12 hours a week. There are at least three people working a shift at any time and there are two shifts a day.

The idea to make the Learning Center came about after discussions in the 1990s to upgrade the lab farm facility. It was eventually decided to make an entirely new facility. Due to several upgrades, the facility makes it easier for managing the cows as well as milking them.

The overall response to the facility one year after its opening has been very positive. The inclusion of two classrooms, just like any other on campus, has made transitioning from class to hands-on experience easier and the new equipment is a welcomed improvement.