KBS Studies Pasture-based, Robotic Milking System
In the fall of 2008 the Michigan State University (MSU) Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) broke ground on the construction of a new free-stall dairy barn in preparation for the transition from a conventional dairy management system to a pasture-based dairy management system with automatic (robotic) milking. The transition to the pasture-based system and development of the Pasture Dairy Research and Education Center is funded with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and additional support from Michigan State University Extension, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Michigan State University Provost Office and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
At capacity a 120-cow milking herd plus dry cows and heifers will be maintained at the farm. Both pastures are sub-divided for rotational grazing of cows and heifers during the grazing season. During the grazing season the majority of a cows’ feed intake comes from pasture with some concentrate fed during milking. When pasture is not available lactating cows are housed in the new barn and fed a ration of conserved forages (mainly hay, haylage, and grass silage) and concentrate during milking.
An additional benefit of AMS technology is that the dairy producer has a large amount of information available on the quantity and quality of milk each cow produces at each milking, allowing the dairy manager to make informed decisions on the management of individual animals in the herd.
A LEED certified building must be designed and constructed in ways that decrease the environmental impact of the building during construction and over the life-time of the building and promotes the well-being of building occupants. Design and construction practices that conserve energy and water and promote the sustainable use of natural resources are central to the LEED certification process. The KBS dairy barn is the first agricultural building to seek this certification.
Research and outreach activities will focus on issues important to small- and mid-sized dairy operations but will also look beyond the farm to issues that are important to the consumer and society.
Dr. Janice Siegford, MSU Department of Animal Science, and her research group are conducting the first research at the new dairy facility this summer as they monitor the transition to the new system.
This summer, they are focusing on how the transition from a conventional dairy facility with three-time per day milking to a pasture-based dairy with voluntary milking will impact cow behavior, health, and performance and which animals adjust better to the new system.
Dr. Siegford plans to continue an active research program at the KBS dairy utilizing a series of video cameras that will allow her to monitor cow behavior and social interactions.
Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the new facility, learn about all aspects of the dairy including the robotic milking system and LEED certification, and visit with Michigan State University faculty, staff, and students about research, education, and outreach at the dairy.
The dairy is located at 10461 N 40th Street, Hickory Corners, MI. If you have questions regarding the Grand Opening or general questions about the dairy, contact Mat Haan, Pasture Dairy Research and Education Center Project Coordinator, at 269-671-2360 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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