Calling Agassiz Home for 25 Years

Calling Agassiz Home for 25 Years

Photo by Hover Collective

Since 1995, the community of Agassiz, B.C., 100 kilometers east of Vancouver, has been home to the university’s dairy cattle. Today these cattle play an important role in teaching and research, and at last count, their numbers reached approximately 500.

Now called the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre, this is an internationally recognized research facility supporting the development and adaption of new technologies for the dairy industry. Students from around the world come to study and conduct research at the Centre, located in the town of about 6,000 people.

As the Centre celebrates an important milestone, we look back at some highlights from the past 25 years.


  • Dairy cattle, milk quota, and farm equipment owned by UBC, and located at Vancouver campus and the UBC Oyster River Research Farm, were consolidated with equipment from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at the new Agassiz site.


  • Sales of milk and animals provide adequate income for the Centre to recover costs.


  • UBC and AAFC sign agreements outlining terms by which AAFC agrees to provide UBC its dairy herd and certain related equipment, and land and facilities located in Agassiz. This enabled the University to formally establish the Dairy Education and Research Centre on land leased from AAFC.
  • Research herd increased in size to provide enough experimental animals for most research projects.
  • UBC initiates the Animal Welfare Program, and welcomes David Fraser and Dan Weary as NSERC Industrial Research Chairs.
  • Nelson Dinn is hired as Agassiz Farm Manager (and today is the Business Operations Manager).


  • UBC completes construction of 240-cow freestall barn, a double-12 parallel milking parlor, maternity pens, administration offices, and a small research area.


  • UBC hires Marina von Keyserlingk.


  • UBC completes construction of a new 120-cow freestall barn equipped to automatically monitor feed and water intake.
  • AAFC and UBC sign an Access Agreement providing AAFC scientists with access to the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre including animals, facilities and equipment, for the purposes of dairy cattle research.
  • UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering establishes the Energy and Nutrient Recovery Facility on site.


  • UBC completes construction of a new barn to house growing heifers.
  • UBC completes construction of the Westgen Calf Research Facility, housing milk fed calves in group pens with automated feeding and feed intake monitoring.


  • Marina von Keyserlingk appointed as an NSERC Industrial Research Chair.


  • UBC completes construction of a lab building containing research laboratories, offices and Bank of Montreal Conference Room with capacity for 65 people.


  • UBC hires dairy animal reproduction faculty member Ronaldo Cerri.


  • Sand/manure separation and recovery system completed.


  • UBC completes construction and furnishing of a 32-bed student residence.


  • Jim Thompson, Professor and Founding Director of the Dairy Education and Research Centre, retires on December 31.


  • Associate Professor Ronaldo Cerri becomes new Director on January 1.
  • UBC and AAFC sign new Lease Agreement.


  • Looking ahead in 2020 and beyond, the Centre plans to invest in state-of-the-art, automated milking equipment.