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Ohio State to build multi species learning facility, dairy on Columbus campus
By Michele F. Mihaljevich
Indiana Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A multispecies learning facility to be built on The Ohio State University campus will be a tremendous resource for faculty to conduct teaching and research, a professor in the university’s animal sciences department said.
Students will be able to learn about modern technology used in animal production systems, and the efforts of the industry in keeping animals healthy and the food supply safe, Maurice Eastridge told Farm World.
The Multispecies Animal Learning Center (MALC), scheduled to be completed in fall 2025, will cost $52 million, according to a release from Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
A modern dairy will also be built at the site at a cost of $5 million, Eastridge said. The dairy is expected to be done by winter 2025.
The MALC and dairy will be constructed at the Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory on the Columbus campus. Groundbreaking for the new facility was Jan. 30.
“The MALC is needed to provide adequate teaching (academic and outreach) on the Columbus campus to meet the mission of the college and department,” explained Eastridge, also the department’s senior associate chair. “Columbus-based facilities for farm animals have become very limited.”
Beef cattle and horses currently housed on property away from the university’s main campus will move to the MALC once it’s completed, he said. The MALC will provide laboratory teaching space, an arena, and housing for beef and small ruminants, swine, equine and poultry, Eastridge noted.
“The new dairy farm is needed to modernize the facility to train students and educate the public with state-of-the-art technology,” he said. “The facility will include a robotic milking system, an automated feeding system, and automation for manure movement and pushing up feed.”
The dairy will continue to support research with the ability to measure individual cow feed intake and milk production, Eastridge said. Space will be allocated within the facility to potentially process milk on the farm for sale to campus personnel and to the public, he added.
To create space for the new facility, about six older buildings – some attached to each other – have been or will be torn down, he said. The heifer and dry cow loose housing barn has already been torn down, Eastridge said.
He said the MALC will be used as a tool to help draw high school students to the program. “We think this new facility will be a major benefit in recruiting students to the animal sciences programs at Ohio State,” Eastridge said. “This will be an amazing facility available within a major city midst a land grant institution to aid in education of students and consumers, and engage with the industry that produces our food.”
The MALC will include a viewing area into the animal barns, and interactive, educational displays, according to the CFAES release.
“This is a game-changer for us,” Cathann A. Kress, OSU vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean, said in the release. “It is integral to our vision for Waterman and will be a world-class facility that brings people and animals together for hands-on learning, engagement and programming. It’s going to bring schoolchildren, in grades K through 12, here to learn about career pathways. It’s going to engage people from all across our industry. And it’s going to be a place where all of us can learn more about the work of the university and our industry.”

2/21/2024