In its first phase of growth, NorthStar Cooperative Laboratory in Grand Ledge, Mich., is doubling the space of its facility to accommodate increases in commercial diagnostic services, as well as research and development.
NorthStar, which was motivated by the growing demand for collaboration within the state’s dairy industry, relocated to the facility in 2015, creating a state-of-the-art laboratory for diagnostic services. Advanced technologies, such as mid-infrared spectroscopy, flow cytometry, ELISA and PCR are used to analyze various sample types from the livestock industry for bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), Johne’s disease, leukosis, mastitis, milk urea nitrogen, neospora, progesterone, pregnancy, fat, protein, somatic cell count and more.
“Even in an overall depressed dairy economy, there are significant positive developments occurring in this state, and we are going to be a part of that,” says Dr. Todd Byrem, director of research and development for NorthStar. “Michigan’s dairy industry is a vital part of the state’s economy, and we are committed to investing talent and resources to continue to serve the men and women on farms, and in this industry, as best possible.”
A 75-year-old cooperative, NorthStar broadened its offerings in 1999 to include laboratory services to the dairy industry. Initially providing Dairy Herd Information milk analysis, NorthStar quickly added diagnostics for ruminants.
GROWTH: The addition of 5,700 square feet will allow NorthStar to accommodate increases in commercial diagnostic services, and research and development.
Today, NorthStar’s two laboratories in Grand Ledge and Kaukauna, Wis., process nearly 6 million samples to provide diagnostics to the livestock industry.
“Our continual investment in research and development to improve farm processes allows NorthStar to develop unique diagnostic tests for the livestock industries that are convenient, customized and labor-efficient,” Byrem says. “We are extremely proud of our involvement in this area as it helps to ensure healthy, wholesome end products are available to consumers.”
NorthStar’s original investment in research developed a series of novel diagnostics tests that can be applied to milk samples. Traditionally, tests for Johne’s disease, BVD, leukosis, neospora, parentage, pregnancy, etc., required invasive sampling procedures such as venipuncture, biopsies and palpation. Today, these tests are being conducted autonomously through milk samples, without any disturbance to animals or operations.
With the milk diagnostic platform established, NorthStar is ramping up research and development with the addition of more space and highly skilled research scientists. Fueled by collaborations with industry and academia, research interests now span the globe and will keep NorthStar at the forefront of advancing agricultural technologies.
NorthStar Cooperative Inc. is a stock-based cooperative, owned by dairy and beef producers in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. For information, visit www.northstarcooperative.com.