Animal welfare is their focus

Following you will find additional information that ties to the article "Animal welfare is their focus" which appears on page 7 of the January 10, 2011 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.

A wide variety of electronics helps the University of British Columbia research team gather valuable data on animal activity.

More recent additions to the dairy operation have included a manure treatment and nutrient recovery research facility run by UBC's Department of Civil Engineering. Just four years ago, UBC built new calf and heifer growing facilities to house three age groups: calves up to 11 weeks old, heifers 11 weeks to 15 months old, and pregnant animals over 15 months. Most recently, on-site laboratory space was added to conduct research. Next on the docket are upgrades to student housing. UBC just added a researcher focusing in the area of reproduction and hopes to add a research nutritionist down the road.

"Students who have no previous experience working on a dairy are encouraged to work on the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre prior to starting a graduate program that focuses on dairy cattle welfare," says Nina. "Currently, we have 18 students living on-site, coming from all over the world including Canada, U.S., Brazil, Chile, United Kingdom, Eritrea, Germany, and Portugal. Students can live rent-free, but they have to do some chores which can include checking cows that might be calving or cleaning pens," says Nina.

Need to come together
Animal welfare continues to be a hotly debated issue in the U.S. and Canada. "The Canadian dairy industry has come together to create a guide on how to care for dairy animals (go to based on sound science such as that conducted at UBC. It is voluntary, but industry leaders hope that if audits are implemented, that this code will serve as a foundation," Nina stated.

"Our Canadian industry wanted to stay ahead of what is occurring in the United States where it appears that legislation is coming quickly in many states," she says. "The U.S. has many great state dairy organizations, but there needs to be a coordinated national effort so the industry does not get fractured and end up with a variety of different laws in each state."

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