Iowa State Dairy Farm Set to Open in October

July 17th, 2007

AMES, Iowa — The Dairy/Animal Science Education and Discovery Facility is on schedule for completion with staff and cows set to occupy it in October.

The facility is a complex of buildings that make up a modern dairy operation. The free stall, dry cow and heifer buildings, designed for cows preparing to calve and young cows are complete except for equipment installation, said Mark Huss, Facilities Planning and Management project manager.

Construction on the maternity/calf building for newborn calf care began in July. The milking center, which will house offices, classroom, a public viewing area and milking parlor; and a special needs building, or health care area, are about 30 percent complete.

Construction on a compost facility will begin this fall. Feed storage bunkers, a manure storage tank and site utility work have been completed. Final site work will take place through September.

The $14.7 million project will bring a much-needed resource to a state that is interested in growing its dairy industry.

Maynard Hogberg, chair of the animal science department, sees two impacts on dairying in Iowa. "It will help grow the number of students interested in the dairy industry either as practitioners or those who want to do research in the area. And the research and outreach at the facility will address industry issues that should be an asset to increasing the industry in the state."

The new dairy facility will replace one in Ankeny that's about 50 years old. The Ankeny dairy farm is in a prime development area and the Iowa Legislature voted in 2002 to have Iowa State sell the property, which it did to the City of Ankeny in 2005.

The new dairy facility will be easier for Iowa State faculty and students to reach as it is on an 887-acre site three miles south of central campus. A nearly 100-year-old dairy farm on Mortensen Road near the Towers Residence Complex was closed in 2003 due to obsolete and outdated facilities, budget cuts and the fact it was landlocked by development.

The new facility also will be easier on the cows and the people at the operation, said Leo Timms, animal science professor and extension dairy specialist. When the previous farms were designed cow comfort used to consist of keeping cows warm or cool. The new facility will incorporate natural ventilation as much as possible with mechanical additions. A grid orientation of fans will allow multiple positions to increase cow comfort, and which has proven effective in swine operations.

Another comfort issue is surfaces and stalls for the cows. Many surfaces, from mats to mattresses, will be tried to see if there are differences in milk production or disease prevention.

Timms said the challenge was to design a dairy that could be managed and operated to be profitable while efficiently integrating research, teaching and extension activities. The new facility will allow for individual feeding, which is an essential research tool. Improvements in cow-handling will increase farm efficiency when gathering livestock for classes or tasks like treating them for disorders.

Contacts: 

Maynard Hogberg, Animal Science, (515) 294-2160, hogberg@iastate.edu
Leo Timms, Animal Science, (515) 294-4522, ltimms@iastate.edu
Mark Huss, Facilities Planning and Management, (515) 294-6111, mhuss@iastate.edu
Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-2314, edadcock@iastate.edu