Evolutions in science and research have a tendency to change the landscape of many work environments and it is not different for those in the dairy industry. Dairy farmers have an ever-varying schedule; their work is a fine balance between being a herdsman and skillful businessman, while being equipped with well-rounded knowledge of the land.That’s where the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Dairy Research and Education Centre comes in.
History of the Farm
Currently located in Agassiz, B.C., the research centre began on a small dairy farm on UBC’s Point Grey campus. The opportunity to move to Agassiz came in the 1997, when the research centre entered into a lease with the federal government on a dairy property previously owned by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Located in the hub of B.C.’s dairy industry, the education centre has flourished the past few years, proven by the influx of student researchers. Over the years, the Dairy Education and Research Centre has been able to develop heifer and calf raising facilities, offices, and student housing to accommodate the growth of their research within the dairy industry. By 2000, the facilities were adapted to house 180 cattle to be milked in a double-12 milking parlour.
The Role of the Farm
Today, the herd has around 500 cows and research centre provides exceptional education for students, the public, and is an ag-vocate within the industry. Research coming from the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre ranges anywhere from cow comfort to calf rearing. No matter the scope of research, economic feasibility and animal health are key components to ensure the works supports a sustainable industry.
The Future of the Farm
The current political climate is a common frustration among the Canadian dairy industry; the research centre’s herd manager Nelson Dinn indicates they have found strength in a very supportive community of B.C. dairy farmers. They foresee future challenges in nutrient management and the public perception of dairy farming. The challenge arising out of new research is to look for the practical implications on their own farms in efforts stay ahead of the curve of public perception.
While the work at the UBC Dairy Education and Research centre focuses on educating the next generation of scientists and professors, the end results are for the producers and the public. No one is ever turned away from learning about the future of the dairy industry.