UW-Madison dairy expertise going to China

Holstein dairy cattle are seen at the UW Emmons Blaine Dairy Cattle Research Center in Arlington, Wisconsin on May 19, 2014.

The world-class expertise in dairying at UW-Madison has become one of the state's best exports.

Experts in dairy science at UW-Madison are being tapped to develop the curriculum for a $400 million dairy training center in China, established by Nestle so it can have a larger, more reliable source of high-quality milk to supply its processing facilities in China.

The $1.7 million, three-year agreement means UW-Madison professors and dairy management experts will head to the northeast province of Heilongjiang to design and help deliver a series of courses including milk quality, milking management, reproductive management, feeding and feed delivery, animal health, biosecurity and overall farm management skills.

"The curriculum will range from practical training for farm workers to managerial level training for farm managers, to courses for expert consultants who will be advising those managers," said professor Pamela Ruegg, who is leading the project with professor David Combs and Karen Nielsen, director of the Babcock Institutute for International Dairy Research and Development.

The Dairy Farming Institute will including a training center and three demonstration farms to teach farmers and dairy industry professionals the skills needed to manage larger, more sophisticated dairy operations, UW-Madison said in a news release.

"This is a natural extension of the Wisconsin Idea," Ruegg said. "What's made the U.S. dairy industry so productive is our ability to apply scientific expertise to solve real problems."

UW-Madison was chosen over some of the top agricultural schools in the U.S. and other countries, with Ruegg believing it was because of the reputation UW-Madison has as a world leader in dairy science.

UW-Madison also has a long history of dairy training in China and an extensive network of connections in the Chinese dairy industry.

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