WKU SmartHolstein Lab invites Governor Beshear to tour facility


Brittany Fisher

Governor Andy Beshear visits the SmartHolstein lab at Western Kentucky University on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2021. The SmartHolstein lab is a partnership between the Holstein Association USA and WKU’s Department of Agriculture and Food Science.

Michael J. Collins, Content Manager

Governor Andy Beshear donned plastic booties for a tour of the WKU SmartHolstein Lab at WKU’s Agriculture and Research Education Center on Nov. 18.

Beshear said the tour highlighted techniques and research at the lab, including wearable devices that track the habits of cattle and data acquisition on the impact of the environment and genetics on milk production.

“The research occurs here, some of it, ends up being patented and creates in and of itself future business opportunities, both for the university and for others,” Beshear said.

Beshear was joined by Patti Minter, state representative and WKU history professor, Rocky Adkins, Kentucky House minority leader, and several members of the WKU Agriculture and Food Science department.

“This was a really exciting tour because it shows that we are on the cutting edge of where we have to go in agriculture,” Beshear said. “This isn’t just important for scientific advances and for us to lead the way right here in Kentucky, it’s incredibly important for the future of our country and the future of the world.”

Paul Woosley, department director and agronomy professor, said the research center provides students hands-on experience with some of the newest developments in the agricultural industry.

“There’s such a small percentage of students now in our program, and in the nation, who don’t come from a farm,“ Woosley said. “Having these hands-on experiences and being able to see these new technologies is vital for the education of our students, and it makes them more marketable when they go out and look for jobs.”

Holstein Association USA partners with WKU’s Department of Agriculture and Food Science to run operations at the lab. It’s funded through the Holstein Association USA and Kentucky’s Agriculture Development Board, according to the event press release.

Fred DeGraves, department chair and animal science professor, said the research done through the lab is “going to drive the dairy industry forward into the future.”

“It’s going to be about being efficient, it’s going to be about using our resources properly, it’s going to be about protecting the environment, and especially for dairy, it’s going to be about providing the highest quality protein available for proper human nutrition,” DeGraves said.

DeGraves said the operation is an opportunity that students would struggle to find elsewhere.

“We take what we do really seriously here, and this place is for students, that’s why I came here,” DeGraves said.

​​Content Manager Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.