Woteki says new dairy farm on the way

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

WAVERLY, Iowa -- Iowa; State University hopes to have a new dairy teaching, research and extension facility operating within three years, says Catherine Woteki, dean of the college of agriculture.

Woteki said it has always been the university's plan to build a facility and consolidate all dairy activities on one farm. ISU conducts dairy research on a farm near Ankeny. That farm will stay open until the new facility is built.

Dairy leaders attending a meeting last week in Waverly told Woteki they want a firm timeline for the new dairy. They want to know that the plan is for providing hands-on experience to ISU dairy science students and what will happen to the six breeds of dairy cows at the Ames farm.


Woteki said she realizes new dairy farm plans have been under way for at least a decade, but several milestones have been reached. The legislature has authorized the sale of the Ankeny property and specified proceeds go for construction of a new dairy. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting an environmental remediation study of the Ankeny site.

ISU has a lease on a site south of Ames for a new dairy, and in mid-July the building plan should be compete. From there, architects can start their designs.

The farm will include capacity for 500 milking cows, a double-12 herringbone parlor, free-stall barns, transition and dry cow barns, two calf barns and a tie-stall barn for research. There will be a lab, classrooms and meeting facilities.

"It is our expectation and hope that the new facility will be completed three years from now,'' Woteki said.

The dairy teaching farm in Ames will close in the fall, but the pavilion will still be used to serve dairy science students. There are no plans to sell the farm.

"These are really hard decisions, but since 2000 the Agricultural Experiment Station has lost 23 percent of its funding,'' Woteki said.

Ideally, the teaching farm would have been closed at the time the new facility went on line, Woteki said.

"But budget cuts for three consecutive years and a substantial cut next year forced us to take action sooner,'' she said.


The dairy teaching farm has lost $400,000 over four years, $180,000 just this year, Woteki said. Dairy prices are low, the farm is old and inefficient. Ames has grown up around the farm, requiring that feed be purchased and manure trucked out. Labor costs are high because workers are state employees.

Doug Kenealy, chairman of the ISU dairy science department, said students will have opportunities for hands-on education at the Ankeny dairy farm, and through on-farm experiences with dairy producers around the state. He also hopes to work with the Northeast Iowa Community-Based Dairy Foundation's Dairy Center at Calmar.

Many of the dairy cows and young stock will go to the Ankeny farm. Some will likely go to Calmar, and about 75 cows and 75 young stock will be sold this fall.

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