Agriculture Center of Excellence
6625 County Road K
Wausau, WI 54401
The Agriculture Center of Excellence is located just north of Wausau and the NTC campus on County Road K in the Town of Maine. 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, buildings and business.
Are you looking for a career that combines your passion for agriculture with hands-on experience, state-of-the-art technology and interesting classes led by instructors on the cutting edge of agriculture? Grow your future with the great educational opportunities available. Students begin their course work at NTC’s Agriculture Center of Excellence, a farm-of-the-future learning laboratory, and have the ability to transfer to UW-River Falls or UW-Green Bay with junior status or begin their agriculture career.
The Agriculture Center of Excellence is located on a 110-acre site that encompasses not only cropland and pastureland, but also woodlands and wetlands. The new facilities officially opened in June of 2011 and include a cow barn, calf and heifer barn, robotic milker, parlor and a “green” classroom that has the capacity to seat 32 students. The calf and heifer barn has the capacity to house between 40-50 animals and the freestall barn has 50 stalls. The main building is equipped with a swing two milking parlor and a Lely robotic milking machine.
A Day On The Farm
View a series of videos that illustrate the daily activities at the Agriculture Center of Excellence.
Currently there are 83 acres of tillable land at the Agriculture Center of Excellence. A variety of crops are planted on the land, including peas, oats, alfalfa, red clover, grass and corn. Through a specialized agreement with Case IH and Service Motors Corporation, students are exposed to the latest agriculture equipment and precision farming technology.
The herd at NTC’s Agriculture Center of Excellence consists of both lactating and dry cows. The goal is for each cow to come through the robotic milker at least three times per day. The average cow is milked three times per day with at least one refusal. Our average production is approximately 70 pounds of milk per cow, per day. In addition to receiving a pelleted feed in the robot while being milked, the cows are also fed a partially mixed ration (PMR) in the freestall barn. The PMR consists of corn and hay silage, and dry hay along with vitamins, minerals and molasses. Fresh feed and water is available to the cows 24 hours a day.
Calves and Heifers
Calves are placed in an individual pen for two-to-five days, where they are bottle fed by hand. After that time they are moved to another pen and fed by the automatic calf feeder. The calves wear a collar and a transponder, which is used to determine the amount of milk each calf is fed. Heifers and dry cows are also housed in the same facility as the calves.
Robotic Milking Machine
The robotic milker allows for cows to enter at will. Cow position is measured by the weight sensors in the robot’s floor, which gives the cows the freedom to stand as they please. Each cow is equipped with a transponder, which is a collar with a small computerized chip inside that helps the robot identify the cow and determine if it is her turn to be milked. A predetermined feed ration is then dispensed to the cow based on information such as, weight, production, time in lactation and how many times she has been milked that day. The robotic milker uses two brushes to clean the cow’s udder and teats. Teat cups are then attached using a very accurate sensor to determine their position. Effective stimulation during the cleaning process stimulates milk flow. Once the cow is finished milking, the teat cups are removed in an animal friendly manner and data is stored in the computer system. The cows are then sprayed with a teat sanitizer and released. Teat cups are sprayed and sanitized between each cow.