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‘Futuristic, fantastic’ dairy facility opens

Great aerial shot of U of G Dairy Research & Innovation Centre via @milk1elora.

‘Futuristic, fantastic’ dairy facility opens

by Olivia Rutt

ELORA - A project 10 years in the making has finally come to fruition.

With the May 28 grand opening of the $25-million Livestock Research and Innovation Centre - Elora Dairy Facility, this “super barn” will thrust the dairy industry into a new era.

The centre is a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA); the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO); the University of Guelph; and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

The Ontario government contributed $20 million toward the facility, the federal government provided $3 million, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario $1 million, and the rest came from individual donors.

“It’s an exciting day for agriculture in Wellington County,” said Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.

“For with this new dairy facility, where research will lead to discovery, where that discovery will lead to innovation, and where that innovation will lead to success in the market place, Wellington County is poised to become the centre of the dairy industry in Ontario and the promise of its future.”

Arnott was among many dignitaries present for the official opening of the facility, including Dr. Franco Vaccarino, president of the University of Guelph; Stewart Cressman, chair of the ARIO; Ralph Dietrich, chair of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario; Rich Moccia, associate vice president and research professor at the University of Guelph; and Ontario agriculture minister Jeff Leal.

“This centre is an excellent example of how we’ve worked together to ensure Ontario’s livestock sector remains a leader in innovation and competitiveness around the world,” said Leal. “The provincial government is extremely proud to contribute $20 million to ARIO towards this new facility.”

The idea began a decade ago after a visit from Animal Care Society recommended upgrades to the existing Elora Research facility built in 1969.

“Ten years ago, Animal Care Society came into the old facility and said it needs to be updated,” said Rick Bauman, director of operations and sales at Norwell Dairy Limited.

“That began the whole process of renovations, first to help limp it along, but with the end goal being a new facility.”

At the 185,000-square-foot facility, researchers will be able to enhance livestock health, improve the quality of milk and meat, improve livestock management, and develop innovative technology for Ontario dairy farmers.

“This new dairy facility will also allow the University of Guelph to capitalize on long-standing research expertise in health and disease prevention,” said Dr. Vaccarino.

Already, the facility has a number of robotic machines built by DeLaval, including the voluntary milking system, which will milk cows 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It milks cows when they want to be milked,” said Nicholas Vink, herd management advisor from Norwell, as he explained the system to eager guests. It also analyzes all the data collected from the cow to give researches a complete profile of their herd and track when a single cow needs special attention through individual identification.

Calves can be fed and monitored in one of the three nurseries. In another area of the barn, a rotating parlor can milk 24 cows in 10 minutes in a large rotating structure.

“All the technology is cutting edge. It is the newest and best we have,” said Chad Bauman, an installation technician with Norwell.

Ted Nelson, CEO of Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, was quick to welcome everyone to the new “futuristic, fantastic dairy research facility.”

Most exciting for the dairy sector is the impact of the facility on the Ontario economy.

“Today, Ontario’s agri-food sector supports 780,000 jobs and contributes more than $34 billion to Ontario’s GDP,” said Leal, while Vaccarino noted the new centre will contribute $1 billion annually.

The 240 cows will not be introduced to the centre until September.


June 5, 2015


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