The University of Vermont broke ground Feb. 3 on a new instructional barn and milking parlor at the Paul R. Miller Agricultural Research Farm, Phase I of a three-phase, $10 million upgrade of the farm, located on Spear Street in Burlington.
The $2.55 million, 13,176 square foot teaching barn and milking parlor will accommodate an instructional herd of 50 cows and be completed in mid-September. For reasons of student safety, both facilities have safety and fire suppression systems not commonly found in barns.
To make way for the buildings, a little used, open-stall cow barn located at the front of the complex will be deconstructed. The barn was built in the 1960s.
“It’s very exciting to be under way on the modernization of the Miller Farm complex, beginning with the construction of this important teaching facility,” said Tom Sullivan, UVM president. “To fulfill our land grant mission and maintain our position as a university of choice for top faculty and students, it's crucial for UVM to have a 21st century teaching and research complex in animal science."
“The new instructional barn will be first class facility and a great learning laboratory for our students,” said Tom Vogelmann, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We’re thrilled that both the barn and the larger Miller Farm renovation are finally under way.”
Barn to be used by animal science majors, CREAM program
The instructional barn and milking parlor will be used by animal science majors for a variety of courses and for hands-on research projects during their junior and senior years.
They will also serve as home base for students in UVM’s Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management, or CREAM, program.
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.
The program prepares students for a variety of fields, including business management, community development and applied economics, animal science and biology.
It is especially good preparation for veterinary school, Vogelmann said. Over the last five years, 90 percent of CREAM students who applied to veterinary school have been accepted.
“The CREAM program gives students large animal experience, unusual for undergraduates, which gives them a leg up in applying to vet school,” said Vogelmann. “It’s gratifying that we finally have an instructional facility that’s worthy of this innovative and much admired program.”
The new barn’s capacity to house 50 cows represents a nearly 50 percent increase over the current instructional barn, located toward the back of the Miller complex, 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 smaller colleges and universities that don’t offer large animal experience, Vogelmann said, providing a revenue stream for the university.
Phase II of Miller Farm renovation, the construction of a new dairy research barn, will begin later in in the spring. Phase III of the project is the renovation of the historic Fitzsimmons Arena.