After nine months of construction, the University of Vermont officially dedicated new dairy science teaching and research facilities at the Paul R. Miller Agricultural Research Farm with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 29.
The $4.1 million complex consists of a 13,176 square-foot teaching barn and milking parlor and an 8,764 square-foot dairy research barn. The new structures have been designed and built with an emphasis on energy-efficient ventilation, animal welfare and sophisticated dairy management information systems for use by faculty researchers and students.
The teaching barn is complete and will be open for students beginning in early November. The research barn will be completed later in the year, with occupancy by faculty researchers expected to take place between the fall and spring semesters.
“It’s very exciting to see this state-of-the-art new teaching and research complex coming online,” said UVM president Tom Sullivan. “UVM is a top choice for students and faculty interested in animal science. These facilities ensure that we’ll continue to attract the best and the brightest students from Vermont and beyond to our nationally recognized program and that we’ll remain a highly attractive destination for talented faculty.”
“These new facilities will be a great teaching laboratory that really immerses students in their learning and substantially increases our research capacity,” said Tom Vogelmann, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “With record high student enrollments and the highest level of extramural funding ever, we couldn’t be happier to see this project come to fruition.”
Barn to be used by animal science majors, CREAM program
The instructional barn and milking parlor will be used by animal and veterinary science majors for a variety of courses and for hands-on research projects during their junior and senior years.
The new barn will also serve as home base for students in UVM’s Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management, or CREAM, program. While the program readies students for a variety of fields, from business management to biology, it is especially good preparation for veterinary school, Vogelmann said. In the past three years, every CREAM student who has applied to veterinary school has been accepted, he said.
The 13 to 16 students selected each year for the two-semester, eight-credit program handle all aspects of managing the 50-cow teaching herd, from adjusting feed mixtures to monitoring animal health to handling the business side of the operation. Students also perform all barn chores.
CREAM program students are scheduled to begin using the new barn on Nov. 9. Its capacity to house 50 cows represents a nearly 50 percent increase over the current instructional barn which holds 34 cows.
The larger number of cows will provide a richer experience for UVM students and enable the university to enroll students during the summer from colleges and universities that don’t offer dairy herd or large animal management experiences, Vogelmann said, providing a new revenue stream for the university.
Roughly 80 donors have contributed nearly $500,000 toward the cost of the new instructional barn and milking center. Fundraising continues for the dairy research barn.
UVM’s Dairy Center of Excellence has devoted over $1,000,000 toward dairy research projects since its inception in 2010. UVM Animal and Veterinary Science faculty have recently landed USDA research grants totaling $8.9M related to dairy topics. The new dairy science research facilities will be used for various aspects of these research trials in conjunction with selected Vermont farms participating in the Dairy Center of Excellence.