News Release Distributed 09/06/13
BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture will be consolidating dairy science programs over the next nine months to expand and better integrate the research, extension and teaching efforts.
“This will be one of the first steps we take as we consolidate administratively the AgCenter and the College of Agriculture,” said Bill Richardson, LSU vice president of agriculture. “Our dairy industry in the state, although smaller than it has been in the past, remains a vital part of the Louisiana economy and needs the full support of the academic, research and extension programs.”
There are 137 dairy farms in Louisiana, which is down from 375 dairy farms in 2002. The total value of Louisiana milk production in 2012 was $118 million, according to the LSU AgCenter’s Ag Summary.
Most of the AgCenter’s research and extension programs are based out of the Southeast Research Station in Franklinton, La., which includes a state-of-the-art dairy farm with about 190 milking cows.
The LSU College of Agriculture also has a dairy farm with about 90 milking cows. Over the next nine months, these cows will be moved to the Southeast Research Station, which will bring the total number of milking cows there to about 280.
“A larger-scale dairy will allow us to expand our research program. We’ll be able to do more projects and projects that require greater numbers of animals,” said Phil Elzer, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor and program leader for animal sciences.
“A bigger dairy will also offer more opportunities for the teaching program,” said Gary Hay, director of the School of Animal Sciences.
Hay said the college will now be able to offer summer internships working at the dairy. Classes from both the college and the School of Veterinary Medicine will make field trips to the dairy and conduct educational activities that require a large-scale dairy.
A small herd of 30 to 50 dairy heifers will remain at the dairy facilities on the LSU campus and will also be used in the teaching program in the College of Agriculture, Hay said.
“We will continue with our popular community programs, such as our annual Farm Day for local schools,” Elzer said.
Every spring, the LSU Dairy Science Club, which includes students in the School of Animal Sciences, hosts a Farm Day that attracts about 1,000 students from local elementary schools.
“We bring in animals for this and offer a petting zoo and a chance to milk a cow and learn about farm animals,” said Cathleen Williams, dairy science professor and club advisor.
Another change that will be made over the next nine months is moving the Forage Quality Laboratory from the Southeast Station to campus to be part of an expanded facility combined with the Soil Testing & Plant Analysis Lab, Elzer said.
“We will be purchasing new analytical equipment that will broaden the types of testing we do,” he said.
The Forage Lab provides feed and forage analysis for Louisiana and Mississippi forage and livestock producers. Accurate feed analyses allow for diets more precisely balanced to meet animal requirements, which in turn improves animal performance and increases profitability for dairy and livestock producers.
The expanded lab will provide more opportunities for students to get hands-on analytical experience, Elzer said.
The milk produced at the expanded dairy farm in Franklinton will be trucked to the creamery on campus and will allow for expansion of the LSU AgCenter Dairy Store, which is part of the School of Animal Sciences.
“We will offer more products and expand our marketing efforts,” Hay said.
Linda Foster Benedict