Faced with a barn pushing 40 and in need of “urgent replacement,” the University of Saskatchewan has picked up public funding to build a new dairy research and teaching facility.
The federal and provincial governments last week announced funding of $3 million and $1 million respectively for the new barn, to be built on the Saskatoon campus near East Road and Preston Avenue.
The university said its existing facility, built in 1972, “no longer meets the standards” of the Canadian Council on Animal Care, the national body governing standards for care and housing of animals used for teaching and research.
Construction is expected to begin this fall and to take about a year to complete, the university said in a release Thursday.
The new facility will accommodate 100 lactating cows with both robotic and parlor milking capabilities, animal handling and teaching areas, and research and staff space, the university said. The project also allows space for feed storage and preparation in and around the facility.
Also, the university noted, a viewing gallery in the new barn is expected to accommodate public access and education on dairy and ag production systems.
The facility is to be used for research by the university’s college of agriculture and bioresources, college of engineering, Western College of Veterinary Medicine and VIDO/InterVac.
Research work at the new site is to include dairy nutrition and feed development, animal fertility and health, animal management, technology development, application of information technologies, and development of green technologies for improved sustainability.
“This advanced dairy feeds evaluation and research capability will make a critical contribution to the large agricultural and feeds innovation research cluster” led by the U of S, the university said.
Canada’s dairy sector is expected to gain from the research through reduced production costs, improved animal care and environmental sustainability, while crop producers and feed processors are expected to benefit from “innovative, high-value dairy feeds and new feeding programs” using crops such as canola, mustard, flax, pulses, grains and forages.
“Canola producers are continually looking for opportunities to expand our markets,” Nokomis, Sask. producer and SaskCanola chairman Brett Halstead said in a separate federal release Thursday.
“The research that will take place at this facility will help to examine the benefits of canola meal in dairy production and benefit our entire industry.”
Other “possible opportunities” for research work include new nutraceutical feeds and milk products, biologics derived from milk and “new sustainable technologies,” the university said.
“This federal and provincial funding will greatly help to renew this important facility and ensure the long-term success of the dairy industry and the provincial agriculture sector,” Caronport, Sask. producer and Saskatchewan Milk Marketing Board chair Blaine McLeod said in the federal release.