EKU Agriculture eNews, Spring 2015

Vol. 2, No. 1 - Spring 2015

Stateland Dairy Update

A prestigious, award-winning asset for EKU

Inside this Issue:

Nestled just 9 short miles southeast from campus, the EKU Stateland Dairy is a top-notch, award-winning farm that incorporates top-quality genetics and sound management practices into an atmosphere where students easily garner a love for the dairy cow. Many students and faculty members on the north side of campus often do not even realize that this prestigious farm is part of the EKU campus. However, it is one of the EKU Department of Agriculture’s biggest assets and aids in the development of students in this intensive, hands-on program. Stateland Dairy has for years been known as a top-quality herd of Holstein dairy cows within the state and has often received both production and quality awards on a state level. Recent decisions and practices have allowed the dairy farm to now reach national prestige in several areas.


History of Stateland

Stateland Dairy was founded in 1912 when EKU’s Board of Regents purchased 116 acres for $18,000. It was incorporated into the Agriculture curriculum, which is the second oldest program at Eastern Kentucky University. The Stateland subdivision now sits where the original dairy was located in downtown Richmond. The dairy then moved in 1922 to the location currently occupied by Alumni Coliseum, where EKU plays basketball.  A. B. Carter established a first-class dairy and later a processing plant that was constructed to supply milk to the campus cafeteria. Dr. Carter selected top-quality genetics, including four cow families that still exist in the herd today. In 1930, the dairy enrolled in the Dairy Herd Improvement Registry Program. The third location, built in 1960, was directly across from the football stadium and the A. B. Carter Building, which continues to house the Department of Agriculture. Many alumni have said that the cows would go ballistic when the cannons were shot off during football games. On the other hand, fans were not so crazy about the “odors” given off at the dairy and the freshly spread manure on football Saturdays!

Since 1996, Stateland Dairy has called home at its fourth location, Meadowbrook Farm. The 103-year-old dairy farm celebrated its centennial birthday in 2012. 

Stateland Cows

The 70 milking Holsteins and Brown Swiss cows and 55 younger animals, known as heifers and calves live in a barn known as a free-stall barn. Cow comfort is very important in making a cow happy and as the commercial goes, although our happy cows don’t live in California, they live in Kentucky and know how to make more milk! The milking cows are housed in a section of the barn that recently had waterbeds installed. These waterbeds allow for a cow to be quite comfortable while she chews her cud or takes a nap. Another recent change that also aids in cow comfort was the recent change to incorporate a rotational grazing program that allows the cows to graze on various fields around the barn. Some of the types of forages grown for the cows include sudan sudex, black forage oats, orchard grass, timothy grass, ryegrass, rye, and alfalfa depending on the season. Improvements have been seen in fewer cows being lame in their feet and legs and a mortality rate of nearly zero.

Milk yield and the quality of the milk produced are extremely important at the EKU Stateland Dairy. In 2012, Stateland Dairy earned the 2012 Kentucky Dairy Development Council/Kentucky Farm Bureau Proficient Dairy Producer Award and received second place for this award in 2013. Stateland Dairy was also the District 8 winner for the production award in 2013, beating out the University of Kentucky! In addition, recently the dairy won the Progressive Breeder Registry Award from the Holstein Association. This award is based on milk yield, classification scores (how pretty the cows are), and a high percentage of cows being bred on the farm (not purchased). For 2014, only two other farms in KY were awarded this prestigious honor by the Holstein Association.  Stateland Dairy has received this award only five other times.

Showing Off Stateland

Other major changes have occurred at the farm in the last few years. One of these changes has been the addition of the Brown Swiss breed to the herd. The Brown Swiss Association was looking for a university dairy farm to make a donation of bovine embryos to and the association’s former director, Allen Bassler, thought of EKU because of Bassler’s association with Mr. Chad Powers, current dairy manager.

These embryos were implanted in both Holsteins at the farm and also other cattle. One of the first Brown Swiss calves to be born would turn out to be an amazing and beautiful cow, Sun-Made Valentina ET. After numerous positive comments about Valentina by staff, students, and visitors, it was decided to try our hand at the BIG event for dairy enthusiasts, the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Valentina made the big trip with a Swiss breeder from Kentucky, Fairdale Farm. With members of AGR 380 (Dairy Herd Management) as her cheering section, Valentina was the 7th place Milking Yearling, a rare accomplishment for any University dairy. She continued in her travels to the Southeastern National Brown Swiss Show in Louisville and won her class!  Recently, Valentina was nominated as an All-American Cow for the Milking Yearling class. Only six cows in the nation are nominated for this prestigious honor each year!

An eventual goal for the dairy farm is to have a herd that is 50 percent Holstein and 50 percent Brown Swiss. Several more Brown Swiss cows were selected by both staff and students and purchased last year to aid in increasing the number of Swiss in the herd. The dairy was also recently contacted by Sunshine Genetics and received another donation of Brown Swiss embryos, which are of very high quality. It is amazing to consider the possibilities of more award-winning cows waiting to be born!

Most of the students who have a livestock background tend to have little to no showing experience before coming to EKU. For three consecutive years, we have organized an annual showing event, where students are given several weeks to train a heifer to lead on a halter and also wash the heifer and give her a haircut! This competition is invaluable to students as they learn about everything from judging to fitting to handling an animal.

Education at Stateland

The Department of Agriculture offers both Associates and Bachelors of Science degrees in Agriculture and Horticulture. Within Agriculture, students pick a concentration based on their specific interests in Animal Science, Pre-Veterinary Medicine, Agricultural Business, Ag Energy, Ag Education, or Agronomy.  Current students value the hands-on learning environment and small class sizes.  Many class laboratories take place at EKU Stateland Dairy and Meadowbrook Farms, which houses beef cattle, hogs, and sheep on 720-acres. Many of our students with a dairy background either choose the Animal Science or Ag Business options. During the last six years, EKU has been actively involved in both the Southern Regional and National Dairy Challenge Competitions. This capstone event allows students to use information gained from past experiences and at Stateland Dairy, along with information learned in the classroom and apply this to evaluate a commercial dairy operation. If you are interested in visiting and learning more about the exciting opportunities at EKU and dairy management practices at EKU Stateland Dairy, please email laurie.rincker@eku.edu or chad.powers@eku.edu.

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