The Dairy Science Department at Cal Poly

The Dairy Science Department at Cal Poly

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The Dairy Science Department at Cal Poly


The Eugene and Rachel Boone Dairy Science Complex at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo contains a fully-operational dairy and research facilities for students in the Dairy Science department. This complex is located on Mt. Bishop Road, past the Crops Unit and Veterinary Hospital, and sits in the scenic foothills of Bishop’s Peak. Cal Poly has one of the largest Dairy Science departments in the country and it is the only university on the west coast to offer a specific Dairy Science major. The first-rate facilities at Cal Poly allow students to learn about feeding, milking, calf raising, artificial insemination, and the management of dairies in the classroom and then practice what they have learned on the purebred Jerseys and Holsteins.

The Dairy Cattle Instructional Unit was built in 1992 and is used for a wide range of instructional activities. The first floor of this unit contains two classrooms, a computer room, a nutrition and physiology laboratory, and a microbiology laboratory. Numerous plaques and awards from local cattle shows dot the white walls. Cal Poly has bred some of the top-rated cows in the nation for type and production and individual cows have won many awards for the rich content and amount of milk produced. Industrial-like stairs along one wall lead up to the second floor where visitors can view the milking process. Cows are milked at the milking parlor daily from 4 to 6 am and 4 to 6 pm. This immaculate parlor can milk 16 cows at one time and contains state of the art milking equipment including an energy-efficient pre-cooling system, which the milk passes through before being stored in two 3,000-gallon bulk tanks. The physiology laboratory is used for artificial insemination, feed analysis, and dairy biotechnology courses. Students perform experiments such as embryo manipulations and transfer techniques in this laboratory.

Beyond the Instructional Unit are the barns where all the cows reside.

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The small Hospital and Maternity Barn is used for calving and caring for sick cows. It also contains individual habitats for newborns where they can be monitored and fed according to specific guidelines. The Milking Cow Barn is the largest barn at the dairy, located just behind the Hospital and Maternity Barn. Here, approximately 80 Holstein and 85 Jersey cows reside. A mixture of hay, alfalfa, beet pulp, and cotton seed line the walkway as dozens of cows poke their head out of the
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