New this Fall: Dairy Industry Concentration

New this Fall...A Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science with a Dairy Industry Concentration

The Dairy Industry Concentration is a program for students who aspire to work on a dairy farm and businesses that support dairy production. This program includes the science core, numerous courses in management of dairy animals and farms, and various electives depending on the goals of each student.

Are you interested in learning more about the new Dairy Industry Concentration? We had the chance to interview
Dr. Joe Domecq, Coordinator of Dairy Education within Animal Science, to answer some questions about this
great opportunity.

Q: What is the Dairy Industry Concentration?

A: The dairy concentration provides an opportunity for students to gain practical, hands-on skills and knowledge needed to succeed in many of the career opportunities that are available in the dairy industry. The courses within the concentration are designed to provide students within the Ag Tech and Bachelor of Science programs in Animal Science practical and scientific educational experiences. Courses and experiences that combine practical experience, scientific theory and business principles are all part of the Dairy Industry Concentration experience.    

Q: Why was the Dairy Industry Concentration developed for Bachelor of Science students?

A: The background of students enrolling in the bachelor’s degree has changed in the last 20 years.  Fewer students have a practical dairy background or are raised on a dairy. There is a need to provide practical education and experiences for these students. Students need to be able to apply the scientific concepts they learn in various animal science courses. For example, understanding the biosynthesis of milk in the udder is important, but students also need to understand and experience the process, challenges, and economics of harvesting milk in a modern parlor or robot. There are many other examples of where practical knowledge and education enhances scientific course material. Furthermore, students need to be able to apply business decision-making principles, incorporating data from the latest technology like animal sensors, to animal biology.

Q: How does the Dairy Industry concentration impact the Ag Tech Dairy Management program?

A: The Ag Tech Dairy Management program will remain an important part of the Department of Animal Science. Students who do not want to attend school for four years can attend for three semesters and obtain a practical, short education in dairy production and management.   

The larger impact for the Ag Tech program is the educational opportunities that are available to graduates after the completion of Ag Tech. There are now new dairy courses and educational opportunities that are part of the Dairy Industry Concentration. More skills and depth of dairy and science knowledge is available for those who decide to transition into the four-year program.    

Admission to the Ag Tech dairy program will remain the same and separate from admission from the Bachelor of Science program. Almost all the current Ag Tech courses and experiences, including internships, will be remain the same. The pathway to transfer from Ag Tech to the Bachelor of Science program has been clearly defined and almost all of the credits earned in Ag Tech will transfer to the Bachelor of Science program.  Students can complete the Ag Tech and bachelor’s degree programs in four years.  

Q: What career opportunities are available to students upon completion of this concentration?   

A: There are many career opportunities in the Michigan dairy industry, and there are not enough qualified students to fill the jobs that are currently available. As dairies become larger, the opportunities to work in specific areas of the operation increase, with the ability to develop deep expertise, supervise employees, and solve problems. Those areas include but are not limited to maternity, calves, youngstock, reproduction, feeding management, parlor operations and human resource and development. The traditional positions of farm owner, herd manager and herdsperson still exist as well.   

There are many businesses that support dairy operations, and many positions are available within these organizations. Experts in dairy nutrition help farms with everything from forage production to feeding management. Dairy operations also utilize a tremendous amount of technology, including robots and animal sensors that collect data; people with the ability to utilize this technology and apply practical cow knowledge are in great demand. Veterinarians also play an important role in dairy operations and pre-veterinary students would benefit from completing the Dairy Industry Concentration. 

Q: What outside of the classroom learning activities are part of the Dairy Industry Concentration?

A: There is a diverse team of instructors involved in teaching and leading activities inside and outside the classroom. This faculty possesses many years of experience in the dairy industry and/or conducting dairy research, and they bring this experience to teaching and advising efforts. Students interested in research can gain experience in the field or lab working with internationally known scientists. Students can become members of successful Dairy Challenge or Dairy Judging teams. MSU also has many clubs within the Department of Animal Science and across campus. Study abroad programs related to dairy production also are available. Finally, students can complete internships across the world in fields related to dairy production.

Q: Where can I find more information?   

A: Specific information and courses can be found at Interested current and future MSU students should contact Dr. Joe Domecq for more information.    

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