Stay on the Leading Edge with the Dairy Science Technology Program

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NICC_dairyThe introduction of robotic milking systems, improvements to automated feed and ration mixer technology, and advanced sensors that monitor a dairy cow’s temperature, weight, diet and other vital signs has revolutionized the dairy farming industry.

These new advances are creating demand for professionals and college graduates who not only possess the skills and knowledge needed to run and troubleshoot these technologies, but also know what the next generation of high-tech tools will bring to the Midwest farmer’s milking parlor.

According to Dave Lawstuen, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) chair of dairy operations, agriculture faculty and Iowa Professor of the Year recipient, preparing NICC Dairy Science Technology students for these technologies is critical to their career success after graduation.

10_NICC Calmar Dairy Facility028The shift to robotic milking systems, a technology introduced at Iowa’s Dairy Center at the College’s Calmar campus, is influencing how the next generation of farmers are trained.

“Several years ago, our dairy science faculty and the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation were looking at where we’re going in the next decade in the ag education of young people and our consumers,” Lawstuen explained. “Robotic milking systems technology is tailor-made to the dairy industry in Iowa. These systems have the capability to milk cows 24 hours a day and seven days a week without adding additional labor. This will allow us in the Midwest to compete with the West Coast.”

Lawstuen compares the contemporary benefits of robotic milking in the dairy world to the technological revolution the round baler accomplished for farmers baling hay when the invention was introduced in the 1980s. The robotics technology at NICC is educating Dairy Science Technology students, as well as all Dairy Science students, consumers and producers.

The introduction of robotics is predicted to improve the lives of dairy farmers by lessening their enormous workloads.

“In a study by Iowa State University, the researchers asked themselves, ‘How do you measure the quality of life?’ They examined how dairy farmers would have more quality time in their lives without the interference of milking cows three times a day and that robotic milking systems like this one would improve the quality of life for farmers,” Lawstuen noted.

10_NICC Calmar Dairy Facility025The Dairy Science Technology program at NICC is nationally-recognized for its academic rigor and excellence, experiential and hands-on learning approaches, and classroom instruction that teaches both theory and applied concepts
to prepare you as a student for a professional career in the dairy industry.

Lab work with a 300-cow herd located at Iowa’s Dairy Center provides you with hands-on learning using the Lely robotic milking system, a traditional milking parlor, freestall barn and a calf barn. As a student in this two-year Associate of Applied Science degree program, you will develop skills in and knowledge of innovations and advanced technologies that impact successful dairy operations.

NICC offers certificate options that provide you with opportunities to specialize in breeding, business, health or nutrition, and academic credits earned from these certificates are transferable into the two-year Dairy Science Technology program.

New technologies in dairy science are changing the industry. Stay ahead of technological advances in dairy science and compete in one of northeast Iowa’s most thriving industries! Visit

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