Located just north of NTC’s Wausau campus on County Road K in the Village of Maine, the Agriculture Center of Excellence is the only working dairy farm and learning laboratory in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Thanks to a unique collaboration of partners in the agriculture industry, government and education, the Agriculture Center of Excellence provides the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the management of the herd, nutrition, crops, equipment, facilities and agri-business.
The Agriculture Center of Excellence is also home to NTC's Electrical Power Distribution and Gas Utility Construction and Service programs. Training for NTC's diesel programs takes place nearby at the Diesel Technology Center, situated just south of the Center.
A number of programs are offered at the Agriculture Center of Excellence, including:
The herd consists of both lactating and dry cows. The average cow is milked three times per day, with at least one refusal, and the average production is approximately 90 pounds of milk per cow, per day. In addition to receiving a pelleted feed in the robotic milking machine, the cows are fed a customized mixed ration consisting of corn silage, haylage, dry hay, straw, vitamins and minerals by the robotic feeder.
Calves are placed in an individual pen or calf hutch, where they are bottle-fed by hand. After a few days, calves in the individual pens are moved to another pen and fed by the automatic calf feeder. At approximately three months of age, calves are weaned and moved to the adjoining heifer facility.
Robotic Milking Machine
One of the most impressive pieces of machinery on-site is the robotic milking machine. This equipment allows the cows to enter at will, and the cow's position is measured by the weight sensors in the robot’s floor.
Each cow is equipped with a collar that has a small computerized chip that helps identify the cow and determine if it is her turn to be milked. A predetermined feed ration is dispensed as the cow is milked. Once they are finished milking, they are sprayed with a teat sanitizer and released back into the freestall barn. Information on each individual cow is recorded and stored in the software management system.
Students utilizing the facility are exposed to the latest agriculture equipment and precision farming technology, allowing them to take full advantage of the 120 acres of farmland to plant peas, oats, alfalfa, red clover, grass, turnips, radishes and corn.
The Center features an apple orchard, pollinator plot, greenhouse and growpod. These resources serve as instructional aids for both learners and visitors. The College continues to explore alternative sustainable energy services that could be implemented at the Center.
Contact the Agriculture Center of Excellence
Address: 6625 County Road K, Wausau, WI 54401
(View building/room map)