Rayner Dairy Research and Teaching Facility

The dairy facilities at the University of Saskatchewan are over 30 years old and require replacement. Significant technical advancements that have occurred in the dairy industry since the current Dairy Research Barn was constructed in 1972, including the development of robotic milking machines and automated feeders, have rendered the facility obsolete. In addition, modern dairy cows are larger than those housed in the building at the time of construction.

Based on the land use assessment, the University is building the new Dairy Research Facility on a new location at Preston Avenue and East Road. This project will ensure the university meets the standards of the Canadian Council on Animal Care, the national standards body for the care and housing of animals used for teaching and research in Canada. The planned upgrades will address the university’s commitment to animal welfare, research, teaching, extension, and technology transfer.

The new facility will allow the university to increase its herd from 60 to 100 lactating animals, incorporate both robotic and traditional parlor milking capabilities, and expand animal handling, teaching, and research spaces. The project will also include the installation of advanced technology and state-of-the-art computer-based milking robotics and feed management systems that are typically found within an advanced dairy research facility.

The new facility will feature cattle housing and feed research areas, properly-sized and designed animal handling and teaching areas, contemporary ventilation and lighting systems, milk storage and support rooms, and staff and visitor spaces. An exciting new feature will be the overhead gallery, which will give visitors a bird’s eye view of modern dairy and agriculture production systems.

The facility will also strengthen ties with the industry. Saskatchewan Milk Marketing Board (SMMB) representing the dairy industry and SaskCanola representing the canola producers in Saskatchewan are partners in this project with the objective to enhance learning and meet research and outreach needs of the respective industries. SMMB and SaskCanola have identified as high priorities improvement of sustainability and the development of “green” technologies. The gallery is designed to enhance public education and outreach.

The existing facility will be renovated to house dry cattle.

The Rayner Dairy Research and Teaching Facility plays a significant role in teaching undergraduate and graduate students within the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Research conducted in the new facility will involve dairy nutrition and feed development, animal fertility and health, animal management, technology development, and development of green technologies for improved sustainability. The facility will also be used to further research from the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, College of Engineering, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, and VIDO/InterVac.

Construction began in December 2011 and is expected to be complete by May 2013.