EDMONTON — The barn milks dairy cows, but that’s where the similarity with other dairy barns ends at the University of Alberta’s Dairy Research Technology Centre.
Research is the key focus of the barn and its 146 milking cows.
Feed is carefully weighed and measured in a special tub that is placed in front of each cow. If there is any left before the next feeding, the leftovers are also measured and recorded.
The milk from every cow is measured at every milking and details recorded for research.
Unit manager Harold Lehman said scientists can also test how a specific feed affects the quality and quantity of the milk and the cows’ health.
“If they want to change fats, they can add sunflower seeds. It’s amazing what different things change the milk fats,” Lehman said during a tour of the facility.
Research at the centre ranges from testing vaccines on newly lactating cows and monitoring their disease and health after the vaccination to increasing the amount of light in the dairy barn and monitoring milk output.
“We noticed right away that milk production went up in the cows. It was an amazing study,” said Lehman.
The individual feed tubs that are put in front of each cow make it easy to measure different kinds of food in the ration and the changes in the cows.
The barn produces 8,600 litres of milk every two days.
It doesn’t have a milk quota because the variety of research at the farm means milk production could go up or down dramatically depending on what’s being done.
The farm sold its quota a few years ago and invested part of the money into a fund to help pay for research.
Source: Western Producer