April 29, 1997
Building Commission OKs Dairy Planning Funds
by Ellie Walradth
UW-RF News Bureau
UW-River Falls has been granted money for planning the construction of a new $2.8 million updated dairy teaching facility designed to prepare students for careers in the dairy industry.
The new facility will be used primarily for teaching, including classes in dairy farm management practices, feeding and nutrition, computerized dairy records, and basic dairy cattle production.
Last week the Wisconsin State Building Commission authorized planning money for the facility. UW-RF Campus Planner Dale Braun estimated that cost at about $110,000, with the University required to match half of the cost from private gifts and grants.
The planning funds are expected to be released to UW-RF in the fall of 1997. Actual funding for construction will be delayed until the state's 1999-2001 biennial budget begins on July 1, 1999.
"This is an important lab for us to establish," says Dean Gary Rohde of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. "We need an up-to-date modern dairy farm so we can acquaint students with working in new facilities and lab practices that are difficult to implement in the current setup."
About 270 students are animal and food science majors at UW-RF and another 140 are specializing in dairy science and will utilize the facility.
UW-RF and the State Building Commission both agree that the present facility is outdated.
The current dairy farm used as a teaching facility, built in the 1950s, is located on Laboratory Farm No. 1, at the southeastern corner of the campus, near Cemetery Road and Wisconsin Highway 65.
Current plans are to relocate the 150-acre dairy farm to UW-RF's Mann Valley Laboratory Farm No. 2, located about three miles from campus at the northwestern border of River Falls.
The existing 60 registered Holsteins and an additional 20 milking cows, plus young stock, will make up the new Mann Valley dairy operation for a total herd size of about 190.
The dairy cows will be added to the beef, swine and sheep on the 290-acre Mann Valley farm. Once the two enterprises are combined, management and feeding practices will be more efficient and manure disposal will be more convenient, noted Rohde and Braun.
The teaching facility will include a new milking parlor, free-stall barn, forage handling system and waste handling facility.
The estimated cost of the facility is $2.8 million. It is anticipated UW-RF will raise 10 to 15 percent through private donations. That will make the dairy teaching facility the first academic-related facility in the 124-year history of UW-RF to use private funding for construction.
"At this point we are optimistic that we can raise about $300,000 from private donations," says Rohde. "We have heard positive responses but are waiting for final approval (before raising the money)."
Raising this amount of money through private donations for a building project is rare for UW-RF. Rohde says that other state universities have done it before, but UW RF has never raised this amount from the private sector for a major project.
However, collaboration on this project with the dairy industry is one of UW-RF's goals. Rohde believes a partnership with students who will become integral parts of the dairy industry will add to the industry's overall prominence and strength. The facility will also provide opportunities for research, internships, judging contests, tours and livestock sales.
The community will also benefit from this improved facility. For example, about 2,000 grade school students tour the lab farms every year.