The Charles J. Sniffen Research Facility at Miner Institute accommodates pen studies, intensive tie stall studies, and Calan door studies. One free stall barn has 272 free stalls in four pens that can be divided into eight pens with 34 free stalls each. We have a current lactating herd of about 400 cows milked in a double-twelve parallel parlor with milk sampling in the parlor basement. Sort gates within the return alley allow for the collection of body weights, body condition scores, and locomotion scores during the return to each pen from the milking parlor.
The 16-cow tie stall facility allows for intensive studies. There is a complete feed mixing facility with four forage bins and 8 grain bins. Calan Data Rangers are used to mix experimental total mixed rations. The associated labs are used for initial handling of feed, rumen, fecal, and blood samples. The lab contains centrifuges, drying ovens, and other common laboratory equipment.
A research animal handling area allows for efficient measurement of body weight, body condition score, and blood chemistry. There is also a surgical area for rumen fistulation and other research-related surgeries.
A separate barn contains up to 80 Calan doors for individual cow feeding and a bedded pack area that can be sub-divided into 8 individual pens.
The dairy barn complex was designed to accommodate the collection of behavioral data. There is a surveillance camera system to collect video data on stall usage, feeding, and drinking behaviors. In addition, an elevated walkway runs the length of both main barns, and allows for direct visual observation of all pens. The barns, milking parlor, and laboratories were constructed in 2004, 2009, and 2011 with an emphasis on maximizing cow comfort. The research area of the barn contains all the necessary equipment for the preparative work and storage of the serum, fecal, milk, and feed samples collected.