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.

An agriculture student hauls hay across a field, with a tractor.
At this fully operating, 120-acre dairy farm, students receive a rich learning experience through working first-hand with animals, equipment and crops.
A distant landscape view overlooking the cropland and woodland areas of the farm at the Agriculture Center of Excellence
The Agriculture Center of Excellence officially opened in June 2011 and features not only cropland and pastureland, but also woodlands and wetlands.

Cows

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.

Two cows laying in the barn.

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.

A cow stands in the Lely Astronaut robotic milking machine at the Agriculture Center of Excellence.

Cropland

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.

A view of a field used for crops at the Agriculture Center of Excellence.

Sustainability

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.

Agriculture Center of Excellence

Contact the Agriculture Center of Excellence

The entrance to the Agriculture Center of Excellence Classroom Building