The Livestock Research and Innovation Center—Dairy Facility in Elora, Ontario, opened its doors in late May. The $25 million project, part of the University of Guelph’s Elora Research Station, replaces aging research facilities at the site.
In addition to the university, the center involves the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA); the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario; and Dairy Farmers of Ontario. The university will operate the facility under its partnership with OMAFRA.
Researchers will have the opportunity to study everything from genetics, nutrition and quality improvement to animal welfare, food safety and animal and human health, according to the university.
“The new [center] is an excellent example of how industry, government and academia can work together to ensure Ontario’s livestock sector remains innovative, competitive and a leader in the agri-food sector,” said Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. “Ontario’s dairy farmers and stakeholders, with the support of the Ontario government, are committed to leading research in animal husbandry, environmental sustainability and best management practices to ensure the highest quality dairy products for Ontarians.”
Among the highlights of the new facility, as outlined by the university:
- A maternity wing and nursery with sophisticated lighting and ventilation controls will allow calves to be fed individually or through a robotic feeder.
- High-tech sensors for studying feeding behavior will help researchers learn about dairy cow behavior, nutrition and welfare and improve cattle feeding.
- A custom-designed metabolic research wing will allow researchers to study and monitor individual animals.
- A robotic milker will use an identification system to recognize individual animals and help ensure product quality by recording information such as milk yields and by rejecting subpar milk.
Plans for the facility were announced in 2012, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in October 2013. Research is scheduled to begin in the fall.