Animal Research Facilities
The primary research emphases at the Beef and Sheep Research Field Laboratory are applied nutrition genetics, physiology, lactation, production, and management. Eight cattle barns and one sheep barn house 1,000 beef cattle (800 feedlot cattle and about 200 purebred Angus) and 100 sheep. This state-of-the-art facility features a GrowSafe water intake and body weight monitoring system. It also includes a metabolism lab and Ruminant Emissions Measurement System (REMS) that measures greenhouse gas production.
The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center was established in 1934 on about 5,100 acres of unglaciated Ozark Uplift land, primarily Fraguidalfs and Fluventic Haplaquepts, near Simpson in Pope County. It is the largest experiment station of its kind east of the Mississippi River. DSAC links the laboratories and classrooms of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the USDA with the farms in Southern Illinois. Researchers at DSAC coordinate their programs to meet the needs of area farmers.
The Grein Swine Unit is a research and teaching facility that allows our researchers and students hands-on access to pigs. Teaching activities include pregnancy diagnosis using ultrasound, estrus detection, and observing the live farrowing process. The spaces are flexible and can be modified to accommodate environmental and technology-driven research.
The Horse Farm is a teaching and research facility. It is also home to a herd of award-winning Standardbred horses that compete in harness racing events throughout the state. In addition to our thriving breeding program, research at the horse farm improves equine nutrition, physiology, reproduction, and parasitology. But our students say the best part of the horse farm is our Foal Watch program. Students monitor pregnant mares around the clock, help bring foals into the world, and watch them take their first wobbly steps.
The Imported Swine Research Laboratory (ISRL) and Physiology Research Laboratory (PRL) focus on biomedical sciences that use pigs as a model for human health and medicine. Student internships at ISRL/PRL provide undergraduates with hands-on experiences in production and research.
The Lincoln Avenue Dairy (LAD) provides animals and facilities for faculty members and graduate students to conduct research in genetics, nutrition, physiology, immunology, and management. The unit maintains approximately 100 Holstein cows and associated replacement heifers. The farm is considered a confinement facility with the exception that developing heifers have access to dirt exercise lots.
The Nutrition Field Laboratory houses up to 90 newborn dairy calves for research purposes. The facility consists of a lab, a treatment facility for sick calves, and equipment for feed preparation. Calves are housed in individual hutches outside the facility. Undergraduate research assistants gain experience in feeding, managing, detecting illness, administering treatments, and researching various techniques for managing milk-fed calves.
The Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Laboratory (PNCL) is a research facility that specializes in the artificial rearing and caring of piglets from birth to approximately 5 weeks of age. Tight control over environmental conditions, including feeding systems and continuous monitoring, provides an optimal environment for studying piglets. This research allows scientists to create medical models for studying human pediatric nutrition as it relates to immunity, digestive, and cognitive functions that mimic human behavior.
Spread across 25,000 square feet, the Poultry Research Farm includes industry-leading facilities for breeding, growing, hatching, brooding, and cage-laying. And our birds and eggs are used in classrooms across campus, including Veterinary Medicine, as well as in FFA and 4-H programs.
Research at the Orr Beef Research Center focuses on studies for winter cow feeding, reproduction, cattle management, grazing, and pasture management. Approximately 200 spring-calving cows reside at Orr. The feedlot facility and pastures feature mixed cool-season grasses with a fescue base. The University of Illinois Extension Service houses a livestock extension educator at the Orr Beef Research Center and many extension programs happen here each year.
The Swine Research Center at the University of Illinois is a 240-sow farrow to finish the operation. There are 60 farrowing crates in three rooms with 20 crates per room and 20 sows are farrowed every other week. There are four nursery rooms each with a capacity of approximately 200 weaned pigs and each room has 32 or 40 pens. All pens are equipped with a feeder, a nipple drinker, and a fully slatted floor and each pen has a capacity of four or five pigs from weaning until approximately 30 kg.