The Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center is located on the university farms immediately south of the MSU campus along the west side of College Road between Forest and Jolly Roads.
Visitors are welcome daily between 8 am and 4:30 pm. Visitors must not have visited a foreign country in the 7 days prior to visiting the farm. There are informational signs and trails marked for self-guided tours.
The Michigan State University dairy herd is maintained for teaching, extension, and research purposes. Learning experiences are provided for classes in both Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine. The facility frequently hosts extension programs in dairy management. Research projects are conducted in the areas of nutrition, mammary and reproductive physiology, animal breeding and selection, and dairy management. The Dairy is MAEAP verified in Livestock and Farmstead Systems.
The MSU Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center is comprised of multiple barns to accommodate animals of different ages and to facilitate different types of research. Housing ranges from hutches for individual calves to group housing with free stalls. Most cows are housed in tie stalls to control and measure feed intake during research. Free stalls are used primarily for cows not involved in research. For a herd this size, it is unusual to house cows in tie stalls and to milk cows in a parlor. However, before milking cows are allowed to exercise for up to one hour.
Fermented feed is stored in upright silos, bunker silos, and ag bags. A large number of these facilities are needed to accommodate the various research needs. Feeds stored include alfalfa haylage, corn silage, and high moisture corn. All silos and other bulk storage facilities are located in or near an enclosed diet preparation area.
The milking parlor, shown here, consists of a double 7 herringbone parlor (14 stalls total) with automatic milk weight recording and automatic take off. Automatic cow identification is being used. Cows are milked twice per day at 3:00 am and 2:00 pm.
The MSU dairy herd consists of approximately 180 Holstein milking cows ranging from 2 to 12 years of age with an average cow age of 48 months. In addition, 225 head of replacement females are raised from birth to first calving at the facility. The herd is registered with the Holstein Association. Unless needed for research, all male calves are sold soon after birth. All milk is sold through Michigan Milk Producers Association, a milk-handling cooperative.
Most of the milking herd is housed in tie stalls. This is different than most commercial herds of this size, which are more commonly housed in free stalls. Individual stalls are necessary because cows must be accessible for use with classes and most research projects require individual feeding or treatments that would not be possible in group housing.
All females are artificially inseminated (AI) with semen from bulls that are greater than 85 percentile for AI sires. Selection is to improve yield of milk, fat and protein and to sustain physical conformation and reproductive performance. Heifers are inseminated at estrus after 11 months and reaching a height of 52 inches. Cows are inseminated after 80 days postpartum. Calves are born at all times of the year.
Most animals receive a total mixed ration (TMR) based on their nutritional requirements for growth, production, and stage of lactation: