Construction starts on dairy learning centre, health clinic

Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alta., turned the sod April 26 on two new agricultural learning centres.

The $9.5 million Dairy Learning Centre and the $7.1 million Animal Health Clinic are expected to provide greater opportunities for hands-on learning by students.

The 47,000 sq. foot dairy facility is expected to be completed this fall and will be used by more than 400 students annually.

It will house the 280-head Holstein dairy herd that includes 120 milk cows plus replacement heifers and young stock.

A Lakeland College news release indicates the dairy centre will have both a traditional milking parlour and a robotic system and will “focus on cow comfort for higher output production, animal care, safety and transition cow management.”

It will include meeting space and a mezzanine for public viewing.

A lagoon for liquid manure storage and two silage bunkers are also part of the project.

Lakeland’s cattle and sheep facility will be expanded and converted to the new animal health clinic, expected to be ready by early 2018.

The new clinic “will allow Lakeland to double enrolment in the animal health technology and veterinary medical assistant programs,” said the news release.

It will have a modern surgical suite and more laboratory space within its 14,531 sq. feet.

Lakeland College president Alice Wainwright-Stewart said the new facilities are essential to the institution’s legacy that has extended for more than 100 years.

“It’s about innovation, academic excellence and new opportunities for our students to grow as leaders,” she said in the release.

Both projects received funding through the federal government’s post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund. Alberta Milk is also a key contributor to the dairy centre, having provided milk quota and funding obtained through Growing Forward 2.

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