November 8, 2011

Construction Begins on New Dairy Barn

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By next fall, Cornell will open a new dairy teaching barn near campus in an effort to expand hands on learning and real-life application for students pursuing a career in veterinary medicine or animal science.

“Early in the vet programs, students use textbooks to learn how to do physical exams of all domestic species,” said Prof. Lorin Warnick Ph.D. ’92, ambulatory and production medicine. “Now, we can take them out to the new dairy barn and have a place set up where they can safely work around the cows, learn how to perform a medical examination and administer medication.”

The barn will contain 150 milking and dairy cows, and will be used for both teaching purposes and commercial production of milk, said Alfonso Torres, associate dean for public policy at the vet school.

Torres said he hopes the facility will broaden the educational experience of farm-management outside the vet school and into the local community.

“The barn has a built-in classroom with a large window overlooking the cow stable,” he said. “We want to attract students from elementary to high school, as well as the general public, so they are able to observe how milk is obtained from the cows without ever having to enter the farm.”

But Warnick, who will be teaching at the new facility, said the farm’s main benefit is its location, which is walking distance from campus.

“CALS already has a dairy farm out near Harford, which is about a 25 minute drive. This gives us proximity. It is much more convenient for both students and faculty to go somewhere that’s right near campus,” Warnick said.

Construction started a few weeks ago, according to Torres. It will be completed in mid-June, and the barn will be fully operational and stocked by next fall, he said.

Torres said that the planning was extensive, and they had to follow Cornell’s 50-year plan for campus construction, which currently stipulates that any future building housing livestock must be built off-campus.

Architects identified a site for constructing all future buildings associated with livestock, and they began developing six to eight acres for the Large Animal Teaching Complex several months ago, Torres said.

The dairy facility is the first building to be erected in the new complex, located on Route 366, west of the Palm Road Complex, Torres said. But he added that the barn is just the first step towards more lofty ambitions.

“In the future, if any of the current buildings that deal with animals have to be modernized or relocated, we already have this new site designated,” Torres said. “50 years from now, we might see all livestock facilities in this one place.”

Jason Huck, general manager of Cornell dairy operations, said that the facility, which was spearheaded as a joint venture between the vet school and CALS, will be separate from CALS’s “food science” dairy facility on Tower Rd., which is also under construction.

“We don’t milk the cows — we make the ice cream. We are a dairy processing plant,” Huck said.

Warnick said he is confident that the dairy teaching facility will provide a lasting impact for the campus.

“It will serve as an example of high quality dairy management, illustrate all the processes that go into providing good cow welfare and give students actual experience in running a farm,” he said.

Original Author: Harrison Okin