THE Virginia Tech University board of visitors recently approved the proposed design for the second phase of the university's new Dairy Science Complex.
Phase II builds upon the new state-of-the-art research facilities and provides additional space for research, teaching and Virginia Cooperative Extension initiatives in dairy and animal sciences.
The $7.6 million facility will include an applied reproductive physiology facility adjacent to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, an intensive metabolic research facility at the Kentland Farm complex and a bovine extension, teaching and research facility.
"The new buildings are an indication of the university's support of the land-grant mission and will ensure the continued success of our award-winning dairy science program," Mike Akers, department head and Virginia Tech professor of dairy science, said. "The facilities will allow our students to learn in the best environment possible. We have a strong dairy science program, and these facilities make it even better as a hub for research and teaching. What is learned here will increase our understanding of dairy cattle and, ultimately, help boost profits and efficiency for dairy farmers."
The move from the former dairy complex was prompted by the expansion of the Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive Airport, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and a new U.S. Route 460 interchange.
Much like phase I, the commitment to sustainability is evident in phase II, with architectural details such as a bi-level roof structure and open metal slat walls that promote better natural ventilation without expending energy.
"This is an exciting time to be in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and to be a dairy science student," said Alan Grant, dean of the college. "The new dairy facilities provide unparalleled experiential learning for students and a research facility that faculty can use to solve real issues facing dairy farmers in (Virginia)."
The new facilities will also foster collaboration as scientists working at the new complex will collaborate with partners in the department of dairy science, the department of animal and poultry sciences, the Agricultural Technology Program, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues from industry and universities across the U.S.
The facilities will allow for the study of basic and applied science and technology, the interfacing of science and production agriculture and the dissemination of new information on animal nutrition, physiology, lactation, genetics, reproduction, infectious disease, immunology and the business of dairy enterprise management.
Studies also will include nutritional and management approaches to minimize the environmental impact of dairy farm operations and the study of mechanisms involved in disease control and improving milk quality.
This first phase of construction was funded by Virginia Tech with non-general funds. The project was completed over the summer, and the cows were relocated in August.
Some of the features of phase I included a double-12 parallel milking parlor with a computerized milk monitoring system, a freestall barn where the 228 milking cows are housed, a modern waste management system, a special needs heifer barn and a preweaned calf facility.
Construction on phase II is expected to begin in 2016.
The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) recently recorded its 1 millionth genotyped animal and plans to highlight the milestone at its 2015 industry meeting, to be held Sept. 29 during the World Dairy Expo at the Madison Marriott West Hotel & Conference Center in Middleton, Wis.
"This is reason to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and our international partners in Canada, the U.K. and Italy," CDCB chief executive officer Joao Durr said, adding that the 1 millionth animal is, "to the best of our knowledge," the world's largest single nucleotide polymorphism data repository, including human genomic databases.
The CDCB 2015 industry meeting will feature two panel discussions.
The first panel discussion — "Status of Dairy Cattle Breeding Research in the United States" — will highlight current U.S. dairy cattle research, along with identifying future challenges and opportunities.
The second panel discussion — "One Million Genotypes: How Genomics Reshaped the Dairy Industry" — will review the transforming impact of genomics on the dairy industry.
The meeting presentations will include: the CDCB strategic business model; the ARS research portfolio and perspectives; a history of genomic evaluations in the U.S.; sire procurement after genomics; a technical report on animal genomics and improvement; the importance of enhancing the phenotypic record pipeline in the genomic era; genomics and breed composition, and using genomics as a management tool.
Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation's largest in-school wellness program, founded in part by the dairy checkoff, is partnering with Dannon Danimals for a national retail promotion designed to bring awareness to healthy eating and physical activity.
Parents and kids can search for one of six "Golden Bongos" — the Danimals character — among 19 million packages of Danimals Smoothies and Danimals Squeezables low-fat yogurt.
Winners will have a chance to earn a field day with a National Football League (NFL) player at their school. Dannon also will award $5,000 to each of the six winners' schools to implement Fuel Up to Play 60, which dairy farmers founded in 2009 with the NFL in collaboration with USDA.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is in more than 73,000 schools nationwide and has led to 13 million students eating better by adding nutritious foods like low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products to their meals. Additionally, 16 million students are getting more physically active.
"This is great for dairy farmers and Dannon, but it's the kids who will really benefit," said Paul Rovey, an Arizona dairy farmer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff. "These collaborative efforts help keep health and wellness front and center at schools, which has been a longtime commitment by dairy farmers."
The promotion is under way through November at grocery stores across the country.
Danimals and Fuel Up to Play 60 also plan to launch a national television ad featuring NFL players and Disney stars that will appear on the Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network channels, in addition to digital outlets.