McGill’s Macdonald Campus Farm occupies over 200 hectares on the West Island of Montreal. In addition to supporting the teaching and research needs of the university community, it is also a working farm. In December, Natalie Waters and I asked Paul Meldrum (farm manager) if we could come by for a visit. To our delight, he was happy and willing to indulge the curiosity of two Mac Campus librarians!
Our very first stop was the Poultry Complex. Now a certified grading station, the Mac Farm provides eggs to the downtown campus, through Food and Dining Services as part of the McGill Feeding McGill initiative – or, if you’re lucky enough to work out here, individuals can purchase a dozen fresh eggs directly from the farm once a week (Natalie swears by her Mac Farm eggs!).
We then proceeded to the Cattle Complex to meet the dairy herd. Before entering the barn, Paul provided us each with a pair of Mac Farm coveralls (just in case…). There are approximately 80 cows in the herd (in addition to the calves) including Holstein, Ayrshire, Canadienne, Jersey, and Brown Swiss breeds. We were just in time to witness the milking – whereby milk is funneled from the cow, through a pipe system, and into a large tank. The milk is collected every second day by the Quebec Milk Producers’ Federation and sold through Agropur. Paul showed us one of the special features of this herd – several cows have a large surgically implanted plug, allowing researchers direct access to sample the contents of the rumen. Thus ended our fascinating visit to the farm – curiosity satisfied, and smelling only slightly of that special barn aroma!
Curious about the farm? Visit their website: http://www.mcgill.ca/macdonaldfarm
By Emily MacKenzie, Macdonald Campus Library