Dairy Teaching & Research Center
Fax: (517) 432-1466
Dr. Ted Ferris
4075 N College Road
Lansing, MI 48910
The Dairy Teaching and Research Center is located on the university farms immediately south of the MSU campus along the west side of College Rd 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 MSU Dairy 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, after milking cows are allowed to exercise for up to one hour.
Fermented feed is stored in both upright and bunker silos. 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 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 4:00 am and 2:00 pm.
Animal Inventory and Production
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 40 months. In addition, 180 head of replacement females are raised from birth to first calving at the facility. The herd is about 95% 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. Bull calves and cull cows are sold through local stockyard sales.
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.
Milk yield averages 80 pounds per cow per day, with a rolling herd average of 23,000 pounds of milk per cow per year. Milk fat averages 3.52%, milk protein averages 3.04% and the herd somatic cell count is 3.4.
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. Heifers are inseminated at estrus after 13 months and after body weight is 850 to 900 pounds. Cows are inseminated after 50 days postpartum. Calves are born at all times of the year. Average age at first parturition is 24 months. Average services per conception are 2.1. Average days open is 125 days. Average calving interval is 402 days and average culling rate is 20 to 35% of the herd per year.
Most animals receive a total mixed ration (TMR) based on their nutritional requirements for growth, production, and stage of lactation:
- FORAGES: Primarily alfalfa haylage and corn silage with some baled alfalfa hay and sorghum-sudan.
- GRAINS: High moisture shelled corn, dry shelled corn and soybean meal.
- OTHER: Cottonseeds, fat-tallow, energy sources, vitamins and minerals.