New U of S dairy facility promotes Saskatchewan agriculture and outreach

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 15, 2013 Saskatoon - The University of Saskatchewan officially opened the Rayner Dairy Research and Teaching Facility on campus today.

"This state-of-the-art facility offers unparalleled opportunities for researchers to create new knowledge that will to help Canadian agricultural producers stay competitive, as well as providing a superior learning environment for our students and the visiting public," said Karen Chad, vice-president research. "Funded through a broad-based partnership, the Rayner facility enhances our capability as one of the U15 group of Canada's top Canadian research-intensive universities."
Named in honour of John G. Rayner, former director of extension at the U of S for his dedication to agriculture in Saskatchewan, the new barn includes the Feeding the World interpretive galleries, which will help educate the public about agriculture by providing information on how a dairy barn operates.
The Rayner barn houses the entire U of S dairy herd, which will be expanded to 100 cows by the end of 2013. It offers superior animal handling spaces as well as a computerized feeder system for real-time monitoring of on-demand feeding. In both the conventional milking parlour and the milk robot, milk production data for each cow is collected automatically, opening many possibilities for future studies. The barn is also equipped with self-activated grooming brushes for the comfort of the cows but also to advance research into how animals cope with stress.
The interpretive galleries use dairy production as a way for visitors to explore the agricultural story of Saskatchewan and its role in global food production. Featuring an overhead walkway, the barn provides a bird's-eye view of the herd, milking parlour and computer-based milk robot.
"This modern facility showcases agriculture technology and provides the public with an opportunity to see the dairy industry," said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart. "The interpretive galleries play an important role in educating youth about agriculture and the role it plays in feeding the world."
The $11.5-million facility's advanced research capabilities will help graduate and undergraduate students better prepare for jobs in the industry by training with the latest technology. Building on the university's strong ties with industry, the Rayner barn will benefit producers, industry and consumers in areas like feed development and improved environmental sustainability.
"This facility will help prepare a future generation of farmers as well as conduct research that is vital to keeping the agriculture industry strong," said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "World-class facilities like these help drive the economic prosperity of Canadian farmers and the agricultural industry."
"I am proud to see that improved research and teaching functionality at this new facility will make dairy operations more competitive by advancing animal feeding and milking technologies," said Brad Trost, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Humboldt on behalf of the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. "This advanced capability will make a critical contribution to the agricultural and feeds innovation research cluster led by the University of Saskatchewan."
Research conducted in the Rayner facility will also explore nutrition, health, genetics, reproduction and animal welfare.
Contributors to the dairy facility and interpretive galleries include Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Western Economic Diversification Canada, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, SaskMilk, SaskCanola, SaskFlax, Moody's Equipment, New Holland Agriculture, Seed Hawk, Agrifoods International Cooperative, BMO Financial Group, Farm Credit Canada, National Bank and RBC Royal Bank.
The Feeding the World interpretive galleries will be open to the public daily from noon to 4:30 pm for self-guided tours.
For more information, contact:
Kira Glasscock
Communications Co-ordinator
College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan
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