The dairy complex at Miner Institute consists of five barns. A 160-cow freestall barn was built in 1970 for dairy cows, but now houses pregnant dairy heifers and is used for hay and straw storage. This barn has been modernized over the years; it now has sidewall curtains which have improved ventilation.  A freestall barn with calving pens was constructed in 1999; this barn now houses heifers from six months through breeding age. We also have a greenhouse barn built in 1993 for calves from weaning through five months.

Our 272-cow insulated freestall milking barn was built in 2004. The facility was designed with labor efficiency and research capability in mind. Features include an automated ventilation system involving chimneys and sidewall curtains, alley scrapers running continuously, palpation rail, sort gate and special needs areas with headlocks. The barn also has rubber mats throughout, and a catwalk and video cameras for cow behavioral observations. The current herd, consisting of approximately 400 registered Holstein dairy cows, is milked three times a day in a double-12 parallel parlor with automatic identification and pedometer activity and rumination monitoring system. Cows are milked 3x per day. The parlor and holding area are cleaned with a flush system. This barn also has an attached research wing including an office/laboratory and feed room, and 16 tie stalls that allow us to measure individual cow feed intakes and conduct intensive research studies. Associated labs allow for feed mixing and handling of blood, rumen, feed and other samples.

A research wing contains equipment for measuring body weight and blood analyses plus a surgery area. Another barn contains 80 Calan doors plus the ability to have up to 8 bedded pack pens for research.

Dairy calves are raised from birth to weaning in outdoor hutches. In the summer months, the calves are fed twice daily, while in winter months they are fed three times a day. Calf weights are recorded weekly to monitor average daily gain, and feed quantities are adjusted accordingly. Weaning is at 200 lb, which is usually at 6 to 7 weeks of age.

Miner Institute harvests grass, alfalfa-grass, and corn from about 900 acres. More than 95 percent of the forage produced on the farm is harvested as silage; the remainder is harvested as dry hay. The alfalfa-grass is intensively managed, with a 32- to 35-day interval between harvests for first, second, and third cuts. In many years, a fourth cutting is taken at a minimum of a 45-day harvest interval.

We have research scale bunker silos in addition to our larger scale bunkers for herd feeding plus the ability to ensile experimental forages in plastic silage bags.

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Facility Overview


272 free stalls are divided into five pens with poly pillow brisket locators.

Free stalls are 50" wide x 102" long.

Three pens contain 68 stalls and 96 headlocks.

Each of these pens can be divided in half.

Two pens contain 34 stalls and 48 headlocks

  • Chimneys and sidewall curtains for ventilation
  • Rubber floors in alley
  • Automatic alley scrapers running every two hours
  • Palpation rail
  • Sort gate
  • Special needs pen with headlocks
  • Catwalk/observation area
  • Cameras for cow behavioral observations

Another barn contains Calan doors, bedded packs, and maternity stalls.


Double-twelve parallel Boumatic Express Way, Reel, Rapid Exit Milking system with heated pit and cow platform and automatic identification. Milk sampling equipment is located in the parlor basement.

  • Allows individual cow milk weights, conductivity (for mastitis identification), pedometer system, and works with sort gate
  • Rubber mats in holding area and parlor
  • Fans and mister system
  • Flush system


16 tie-stalls with individual feed troughs and water bowls for monitoring individual cow consumption.

  • Calan system for monitoring individual intake in freestalls.
  • Fully equipped laboratory
  • Feed mixing rooms
  • Weigh station


Currently being used for pregnant heifers and dry forage storage.


Currently used for housing heifers from 5 months through breeding age.


Steve Couture, Dairy Farm Manager

Shawn Bechard, Field Crops Supervisor

Kevin Tobey, DVM, Herd Health Manager

BethAnn Buskey, Calf Supervisor