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Centennial celebration continues in Stratford

Aug. 30, 2012 | 0 comments

The centennial celebration of the Marshfield Agriculture Research Station continued Aug. 16 at its North Farm in Stratford.

It was a chance for the public to tour the new heifer and dairy cow facility.

Dignitaries participating in the Stratford ceremony were U.S. Sen. Herbert Kohl, Marshfield Mayor Chris Meyer, University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean Kate VandenBosch, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Sec. Ben Brancel, Dairy Forage Research Center Director Neal Martin, State Sen. Terry Moulton, State Rep. Scott Suder, USDA-ARS Midwest Area Director Robert Matteri, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska.

"I'm proud of what has been accomplished here over the past years, and all of our collective effort here in America's great Dairyland," Sen. Kohl said. "This research station and the dairy center are collaborations that keep Wisconsin ag and American agriculture at the very forefront of American life."

"It's important to note that $1.5 billion of ag products were exported to 132 countries last year, an increase of five percent," Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) said. "Wisconsin is moving forward because of facilities like this."

Not only does agricultural research provide an economic boost to the state, but Wisconsin serves as the national leader in dairy research.

"This is a national laboratory, working on national issues. The bulk of the dairy research facilities are here in Wisconsin. That will continue to serve us well in the future," said Robert Matteri, U.S. Department of Agriculture area director for Agricultural Research Service.

Land for the North Farm was purchased in 2004, with the dairy facility opening in 2011.

The purpose was to create a high research dairy operation streamlined to efficiently collect research.

The 1,250-acre Stratford facility's focus is on research to help keep the dairy industry productive, profitable and environmentally sound.

UW-Madison dairy scientists use the facilities for dairy heifer research, while USDA scientists focus on environmentally sound dairy farm management.

"This facility is a unique collaboration not only with the local community, but with the federal government as well," Brancel said.

"This is a very nice day for a lot of people who have put a lot of work into this place," Brancel said.

"Research is very lonesome," he explained. "Sometimes you share that information, but you don't know the difference it makes. It's a day of appreciation for the scientists."

Stratford station research

The Stratford facility is pen-regulated, with about 550 heifers and about 128 cows kept in groups of eight. This adds practicality to experiments, according to Patrick Hoffman, a dairy scientist and outreach program manager at the Stratford facility.

"Lots of cattle in Wisconsin are raised in large groups or pens," he said. "We can mimic that."

For research purposes, "a pen of eight is as powerful as one individual," he explained.

According to Hoffman, recent research at the facility has shown that heifers can be fed more efficiently than they are currently being raised on most dairy farms.

The Stratford facility is also doing studies on genetic profiling of heifers. So far, Hoffman said there are no results to report. He noted that the female side of genetic profiling is still in the research process.

"It is our responsibility to be in that program," he said. "The whole genetic influence in the dairy industry is making steady progress. It's really been an exciting piece of work."

Hoffman pointed out that there are no calves at Stratford. He explained that the facility only keeps the heifers that will have bull calves. The other pregnant heifers are sent to the Arlington facility.

The remaining heifers will calve at the Stratford facility and join the USDA dairy herd. This dairy herd is maintained mostly for the manure application research being conducted there.

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