Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Take a tour of our new palatability barn

We are now officially reopened for research since our ribbon cutting on Wednesday, January 15th.  For the event, we hosted a group of senior management, staff and dignitaries on a tour of our new research facility, which started in our newly renovated palatability barn.  Here are some pictures to give you a “snap shot” of the experience. 

When you walk in the front door, you are greeted with our new lab space which is over twice the size of our previous area.  On the left, we have some Quick Facts about the horse unit.  Did you know we have run over 300 tests on our high speed treadmill?  And we currently feed 570 lbs of Purina horse feed to our own horses on the farm every day? And by the way, we are expecting 10 foals this year, but our first due date is March 1.

This large room also neatly stores and organizes our microscopes, centrifuge, sampling materials, weigh stations, health supplies and more.  We have so much new space, our shelves almost look bare, but we know they will be filled in no time.

Beyond the lab, we have our new feed intake stalls that allow us to simultaneously measure feed and hay intake.  Our custom-designed system can determine the exact number of bites of hay and feed, the amount eaten per bite, total time it takes to eat hay and feedstuffs, and more.  We can also simultaneously measure water and hay intake.  All of our data points are captured on state-of-the-art scale systems with data automatically downloaded into our files for continual analysis.  We even have a new digital camera system that allows us to video horses while they are eating different feedstuffs, so we not only measure intake, but monitor visual eating behavior as well.  We are very excited about the combined capabilities of all this technology!

In the middle of the barn, we have our “futuristic” feedroom, which is climate-controlled and gives us a new space to measure out our feed treatments and supplements.  It serves as our “command central” for what feeds we are testing that week, how much horses are receiving per meal, which horses are on test, and more.  

On the other side of the feed room, we have our new palatability stalls, which have been renovated in design and also tied into our new scale system.  We cannot only tell which feeds horses prefer, but which feeds they try first, how long they eat each feed, and how much they eat per bite.   Our previous work in palatability has led to the testing of over 400 feed treatments, including 163 different flavors.  We are excited to be getting our palatability work back underway.

On our walls, we have all kinds of new signs, from a history of our horse research to the real-life length of the horse GI tract that spans the entire wall.  These signs serve to educate our visitors and show where we have been and things we have learned along the way.

And even on the outside of the pal barn, our pastures have been renovated with some new terracing and fence.  The clouds may be dark in this picture, but our future is bright.  So stay tuned as we continue to bring more updates from the research farm this year, break-in the new facility and get our latest studies underway. 

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