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College opens state-of-the-art dairy centre

The $9.5-million facility will be used by hundreds of students annually and also offer 
short continuing education courses

Anew $9.5-million dairy facility at Lakeland College will offer students cutting-edge learning opportunities in areas such as calf management, feed and nutrition, cow comfort, dairy-specific software, and manure management.

About 500 people turned out for the recent official opening of the 46,600-square-foot facility at the college’s Vermilion campus.

“The Dairy Learning Centre replaces Lakeland’s previous dairy facility which was built in the 1980s, and puts Lakeland in the ideal position of reflecting the highest industry standards,” the college said in a news release. “It features state-of-the-art technology in robotic and conventional milking and feeding systems.

“With these systems, Lakeland students will have the opportunity to delve into what it takes to lead in the dairy industry. They’ll work with a herd of 280 head, including 120 Holstein milk cows, replacement heifers and young stock.”

The facility will primarily be utilized by animal science technology (AST) students taking a dairy major but will also be used by students in other programs.

“AST students in other majors will have access to the facility during animal-handling labs; agribusiness students will study livestock production systems, AHT (animal health technology) students will apply their developing skills in hands-on labs such as blood collection and injection procedures, veterinary medical assistant students will work with the herd to get experience handling large animals, and crop technology students will learn about manure disposal and growing silage,” the news release stated.

The facility has one robotic milking parlour and a double-eight parallel parlour, and utilizes Herd Navigator technology, which automatically samples milk for mastitis, reproduction, metabolic disorders, and feed protein balance. The centre also features an automatic sort gate, triple foam mattresses, and FAN manure separator. It also has LED lighting with auto dimming, plate heat exchangers (which lowers the temperature of milk from the udder and transfers that heat for other purposes), and ventilation and heating systems that monitor outside conditions and make necessary adjustments inside for cow comfort.

The facility will also be used for continuing education opportunities such as short-term courses on dairy production. Alberta Milk, which provided the use of additional milk quota, will provide input on future courses and training opportunities.

“Alberta Milk is pleased to be working closely with Lakeland College to enhance dairy education programming in Western Canada,” said Tom Kootstra, chairman of Alberta Milk.

The federal government contributed $3.4 million to the project.

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