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Research body looks at future

A New Brunswick dairy industry initiative works to bring research and innovation to producers


Milk 2020, an initiative that aims to foster research and innovation for the dairy industry in New Brunswick, has some new research to talk about.

Established in 2008, Milk 2020 is a not-for-profit organization created by provincial dairy processors and producers who wanted more research, development and innovation in their industry.

Milk 2020 aims to make the province’s dairy industry a key player provincially, nationally and globally. Its mandate is to create an innovative dairy environment that encourages new market growth, unites industry stakeholders and cultivates partnerships focused on developing new opportunities.

A story in the New Brunswick Business Journal reports that comfortable bedding for cows, new cheeses made in New Brunswick and healthy corn grown locally for feed are all Milk 2020’s latest research projects.

Milk 2020 doesn’t have its own research facilities so it partners with universities and public and private organizations to fund and coordinate research.

Before it existed farmers would have to try to find research on their own in industry magazines or on the Internet.

The story reports that bedding for cows is a critical issue since a cow ruminates or chews its cud more efficiently if it is lying down, and it will lie down if it has comfortable bedding.

The research is also looking at what kind of bedding reduces the growth of bacteria.

Milk 2020 got funding to do a study of cow bedding in partnership with the Atlantic Veterinary College.

The project looked into what dairy farmers around the world use and then surveyed what New Brunswick dairy farmers use.

Then it narrowed it down to five kinds of inexpensive, readily available bedding material and tested them in the lab: straw, sand, sawdust, peat moss and dewatered manure.

Sand and peat moss look particularly promising and the next stage is to test them in a farm environment, reports the Business Journal.

Another Milk 2020 project is studying new cheeses to be produced in New Brunswick for the New Brunswick market.

The province produces some artisanal cheeses at the farm level but nothing on a major scale. Research has identified several potential varieties of cheeses that could be licensed for production on a large scale. But the results of that research is still top secret and could be made public in a year or two.

Another Milk 2020 research project has tested New Brunswick-grown corn as feed for cows.

While a decade ago New Brunswick would have imported 100,000 tons of grain annually to feed its livestock industry, this research project has shown that New Brunswick grown corn is just as good, if not better, for cows than imported corn.

Milk 2020 communicates its research results to dairy farmers through its website and through reports at annual meetings.

Milk 2020 plans to look at melatonin in milk, and other possible areas for research are cow foot health and using biosolids for fertilizer on farms.