Holstein Association USA and Western Kentucky University Announce Formation of WKU SmartHolstein Lab

Holstein Association USA and Western Kentucky University Announce Formation of WKU SmartHolstein Lab

Holstein Association USA, in partnership with Western Kentucky University (WKU) and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, is thrilled to announce the formation of the WKU SmartHolstein Lab. The lab, located at the WKU Agriculture Research and Education Center, is designed to be a research, development, and demonstration center for the dairy industry.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with Western Kentucky University on the WKU SmartHolstein Lab partnership. This creative initiative gives us the opportunity to work with new dairy technology and data and assess how it can be of value to Association members and the dairy community at large,” states Holstein Association USA Chief Executive Officer John M. Meyer.

The mission of the WKU SmartHolstein Lab is to lead Holstein and dairy advancements through research, development, and outreach in technologies, analytics, and genetics. This endeavor will also provide students with unique experiential learning opportunities.

“The WKU SmartHolstein Lab is a remarkable collaboration with Holstein Association USA, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, and a number of dairy industry partners. This collaboration will provide unique opportunities that will directly benefit our students, dairy producers, and the dairy industry in general,” says Dr. Fred DeGraves, Chair, Western Kentucky University Department of Agriculture & Food Science. “We are excited with the synergism this collaboration offers and look forward to the wide array of opportunities in teaching, research, and outreach that this project will generate. We would like to thank Holstein Association USA, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, our dairy industry collaborators, and dairy producers from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky for their support of this project.”

The WKU dairy farm is set up to milk 50 cows and raise associated replacement heifers. The long-term goal is to develop a 100% A2, polled herd of cows in the top 20% of the breed for TPI with additional emphasis on health, reproduction, and fitness traits.

To increase the genetic potential of the herd at the WKU SmartHolstein Lab, Holstein Association USA members are invited to donate Registered Holstein® animals or embryos through the Send a Holstein to College program. If you do not currently own Holsteins but would like to contribute to the Send a Holstein to College effort, we will help you identify a breeder or an auction where you can buy a Holstein to donate. To nominate an animal for the program or learn more, visit www.smartholstein.com.  Nomination forms are due December 1, 2021.

The SmartHolstein Lab has been established as an easy-to-access demonstration and development farm to explore new technologies designed to collect novel phenotypic traits including wearable or indwelling sensors and milk-based biomarkers. A major emphasis will be placed on practical use of data for on-farm decision making. This herd will also be a nucleus herd for genetic selection strategies and collection of novel phenotypic information.

“I want to congratulate Western Kentucky University and Holstein Association USA on this incredible ag tech partnership,” said Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles. “As Chair of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, I speak for all our board members when I say we all believe strongly in the importance of cutting-edge research to the future of the agriculture industry. Projects such as the WKU SmartHolstein Lab will help us innovate our way to the next generation of Kentucky agriculture. The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board is proud to support this initiative.”

Collaborations and partnerships from established and startup dairy technology and data providers are welcomed and essential for the success of this project. Many industry partners have already donated technologies to this endeavor. The WKU SmartHolstein Lab is a place where partners can come to explore new opportunities with an experienced team of dairy analytics leaders. Industry partnerships may come in the form of donation of expertise, technologies, or graduate student stipends.  Mutually beneficial collaborations with other university faculty members, international visitors and scientists, and non-profits are also welcome. Please contact us at [email protected]  with questions or expressions of interest.

You can learn more about the WKU SmartHolstein Lab or by following SmartHolstein on Facebook or Instagram.

Holstein Association USA, Inc., provides programs, products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability — including animal identification and ear tags, genomic testing, mating programs, dairy records processing, classification, communication, consulting services, and Holstein semen.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, VT., represents approximately 25,000 members throughout the United States. To learn more about Registered Holsteins® and the other exciting programs offered by the Holstein Association, visit www.holsteinusa.com, and follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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