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New Facilities Create New Possibilities

Two new buildings are nearly complete at the OSU Ferguson Family Dairy Center; the freestall barn and the dairy student housing building. The facilities will be ready by Christmas break (2017).
New Facilities Create New Possibilities

Dairy Center Free Stall Barn

Two new buildings are nearly complete at the OSU Ferguson Family Dairy Center; the freestall barn and the dairy student housing building. Construction is finishing up the final details and the facilities will be ready by Christmas break.

The freestall barn will hold approximately 100 head of cattle and will accommodate both Jersey and Holstein cows. A walkway will take cows to the milking parlor, and a scale will allow staff to weigh individual cows each day to monitor their weight gain or loss.

“The unique part about this new freestall barn is that it is set up to house half Jerseys, half Holsteins,” said Dr. Leon Spicer, OSU professor in animal science. “So half the freestall loafing area is set up for the smaller Jerseys and the other half is set up for the Holsteins. It is going to be a unique setting. Our whole milking herd will be able to be housed in the freestall barn.”

The freestall barn will include an Insentec feeding system, with 16 feeders and two waterers. This system will be able to record the feed and water intake for up to 32 cows. A data center will collect information from the Insentec system daily.

“There will be some opportunities to compare and contrast Holstein versus Jerseys in terms of managing feed efficiency, and then for the Insentec feeders, we could theoretically put Jerseys and Holsteins in there and be able to compare directly Jersey/Holstein interactions,” said Dr. Spicer. “A lot of where research funding can be obtained is feed additives. In theory, we would be able to evaluate the benefit of adding a feed additive to Jersey versus Holstein to see if efficiencies are more improved in one breed versus the other.”

In addition, the freestall barn has a calf managing area, a freshening cow stall, and a maternity section. When cows are near term, they will be moved to the maternity area where staff can keep a close eye on them in case they need assistance. Newborn calves can be taken directly to a cleanup/warming stall where they will be provided with care by the staff.

“We try to get collustrum into each calf within 12 hours of birth, so this facility is set up so we will be able to do that quite easily,” said Dr. Spicer.

The facility also features innovations that will help keep the cattle cleaner, healthier, and more comfortable, as well as help the staff save on time and labor.

“The waste management part will be drastically better for us,” said David Jones, OSU Dairy Center herd manager, “because we can flush the lanes instead of scraping and hauling the manure on the fields everyday.”

The freestall barn will also have a brush that the cows can walk under and a state-of-the-art temperature control system to keep them comfortable. Cooling fans, ventilation, and a mist system will help keep animals cool during the hot summer months. The building also has roll-up sides that can be raised in the summer and secured down in the winter.

“The cows will remain comfortable year round,” said Dr. Spicer. “ We are hopeful that this will also increase the amount of milk production.”

“I believe we may get as much as 3,000 lbs. of milk more per year in this barn versus our old facility,” said David Jones, “so not only will it make it easier for us, better for the cows, but it should make us more profitable as well.”

The new fully-furnished student housing, Helms Hall, will also be completed soon. This modern housing is offered to students who work at the dairy. It is intended to create an affordable living solution and prevent long distance, early morning commutes for the students.

“We are excited about the possibility that students will be comfortable and right there on the facility,” said Dr. Spicer.

The new freestall barn and student housing will provide great improvements to our OSU dairy program. Students will be able to benefit from these facilities for many years. The Ferguson Family Dairy Center Grand Opening will be held April 5th, 2018, kicking off the Animal Science Weekend festivities.

Ferguson Family Dairy Center Free Stall Barn

REPORTER: Rebekah Alford

SOURCE: Cowpoke News - Fall 2017 Edition

MEDIA CONTACT:
Rebekah Alford
Communications Specialist
Animal Science Communications
204A Animal Science
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Email: cowpokenews@okstate.edu

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