Dairy research in Manitoba has got a $1.4-million boost.
Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler made the announcement at the University of Manitoba last week, indicating the cash will be used to retrofit an existing hog barn for dairy research at the Glenlea Research Station, just south of Winnipeg.
“It’s about the research and the technology,” Eichler said. “The world is changing each and every day so we want to make sure we’re always ahead of the curve… to make sure we modernize in a new way so that the students and that the dairy sector are in tune with what those changes may look like.”
Government funding for this project will be provided through the Growing Forward 2, Growing Innovation, but Dairy Farmers of Manitoba is also making contributions to the barn renovation project.
“Dairy Farmers of Manitoba is proud to invest in the renovation of the Glenlea Research Station dairy barn, to further expand our support of dairy scientific research in Manitoba,” said Henry Holtmann, vice-chair of the producer organization. “We have long understood the value of investing in research to advance our industry by continually providing milk of the highest quality, excellence in animal care, and improving environmental stewardship.”
Kees Platzier, professor of dairy management and nutrition, said the existing dairy barn at Glenlea was opened in the 1960s and no longer represents what a modern dairy barn looks like.
“We’ve been able to do very good and well-recognized research in there, but of course for our research to be representative and of benefit to the industry we need… up-to-date production facilities,” Platzier said. “We’ll be working with milking robots and especially in Manitoba that is technology that is being used a lot and advanced very quickly.”
Precision monitoring and feeding systems will also be studied in the barn, which will provide students with hands-on learning and research opportunities as well.
“We’re working with a variety of companies to do research on that too, so we can give management recommendations to the dairy industry,” he added. The barn will also include free stalls for dairy cattle, dedicated spaces for calves, milk collection tanks, above-ground manure storage, new flooring and related laboratory equipment.
The ministers added that the new equipment will help ensure the facilities meet industry standards and support the growth of value-added dairy processing in Manitoba, noting the dairy industry in Manitoba generates over $250 million in farm gate revenues.
“Our government understands the key importance of science and food research to keep our agricultural sector on the cutting edge,” said MacAulay. “This investment will contribute to a robust Canadian dairy industry and help meet growing demand for high-quality, sustainable food, while strengthening the middle class.”
The project is expected to go to tender later this year.