Leading the Next Wave of Dairy Research

Leading the Next Wave of Dairy Research

March 30, 2021
Aerial shot of the UBC Dairy Centre

For the past 25 years, the community of Agassiz, B.C., 135 kilometers east of the UBC Vancouver campus, has been home to the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre (Dairy Centre). Located on the same site as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s ‘Agassiz Research and Development Centre’, the Dairy Centre is an internationally recognized research facility supporting the development and adoption of new technologies for the dairy industry. Through access to laboratories, office and the animal housing facilities on site, and working with producers in the field, our scientists and graduate students and scholars have made outstanding contributions to research in dairy cattle welfare and behaviour, reproduction, and nutrient recovery.

Today, the Dairy Centre has the opportunity to continue this research leadership by focusing on precision dairy management, using sensor-based automated tools and robotic equipment intended to meet the highest standards of care and more individualized management strategies. Currently, the team is preparing to upgrade the milking system as part of the strategic, long-term plans. The retrofitting of the barns and the installation of new technology will be finished by the fall. The Dairy Centre continuously strives to ensure that the facilities and infrastructure support both its teaching and research priorities. The recent development of the on-site student housing and this current investment in new technologies will ensure the Dairy Centre remains at the lead of dairy cattle research facilities around the world.

Quick Facts:

  • Every year the Dairy Centre welcomes 2,500 visitors and hosts guided tours for individuals, community groups, schools and universities, as well as Canadian and international dairy industry, government and academic groups
  • The self-supporting Dairy Centre is home to a 500-head dairy research herd including approximately 250 lactating cows, contributing to education and research. The Centre’s research programs have attracted students and scientists from more than 35 countries. The UBC researchers currently have over 40 graduate students and scholars working in various dairy-related projects.
  • The Centre’s world-leading dairy cattle welfare program develops the scientific basis for good animal care, including recommendations contained in Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle.
  • The majority of the herd are equipped with multiple wearable sensors. A major focus of the research program in reproduction is to connect sensor technologies, data science and biological functions aiming to fast forward the industry to more sustainable practices while maintaining high productivity. Current work with UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering emphasizes the recovery of nutrients such as phosphorous from cattle manure. A focus on environmental impact and climate change research will be key for the future and the sustainability of the dairy industry in Canada and worldwide.
  • The partnership between the Dairy Centre and AAFC’s Agassiz Station has been a unique example of how two public institutions can work together for the benefit of Canadian agriculture. For the past 25 years, UBC and AAFC have excelled on its mandates to generate excellence in research, training of highly qualified personnel, and knowledge dissemination.

To learn more about the Dairy Centre, visit dairycentre.landfood.ubc.ca.