On Thursday, the University of Manitoba officially opened the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba Discovery and Learning Complex at the Glenlea Research Station.

The 60-cow facility, which features modern dairy production infrastructure, was made possible by Dairy Farmers of Manitoba’s (DFM) key contribution, totalling nearly $2.2 million. The project was also supported by the governments of Canada and Manitoba, who partnered to invest more than $1.4 million through Growing Forward 2.

The support allows the University to continue its research in dairy production management to ensure economic and environmental sustainability as well as healthy food options for consumers. The Dairy Complex will provide students with hands-on learning in state-of-the-art facilities.

“Manitoba’s dairy industry plays an important economic role in our province” said Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler. “This investment ensures that dairy research conducted at the University of Manitoba remains on the cutting edge, attracting research investment to the province and promoting the development of young scientists and industry professionals.”

The Dairy Complex includes new robotic milking and feeding systems, free stalls for dairy cattle, dedicated spaces for calves, milk collection tanks, above-ground manure storage, new flooring and related laboratory equipment. Researchers will be able to individually manage multiple groups of animals in a free-stall setting. A dedicated Level 2 metabolism unit will enable intensive studies of nutrient intake, microbial diversity and infectious diseases, such as mastitis, without needing to move the animals off-site.

“Dairy Farmers of Manitoba is proud to support scientific dairy research in the province,” said Henry Holtmann, Vice-Chair, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba. “Dairy farmers share the same values as consumers – and the research conducted at the University of Manitoba will help advance our industry by continually producing milk of the highest quality, providing excellence in animal care, and looking after the environment today and for future generations.”

Two research projects already planned for the new facility will focus on identifying best management practices for high quality Canadian silage production, and exploring the efficacy and safety of hemp products. The Dairy Complex also includes equipment for precision dairy farming, allowing the development of strategies to better match the demands and supplies of nutrients for dairy cows in modern group-housed and automated barns. 

DFM has committed to ongoing annual support of U of M dairy research programs

“Thanks to the leadership of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba on this project, these state-of-the-art facilities will allow our faculty and students to undertake research that is up to industry standards, thus enabling the results to be readily translated into practice and be of significant value to producers in Manitoba and beyond,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) and Professor at the U of M.

Previously, the Glenlea dairy barn has been a popular public education component for visitors to the Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre. The new Dairy Complex will enhance teaching and outreach through a viewing gallery and public exhibit space, and provide visitors with a rare opportunity to engage with modern dairy production.

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