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Dairy Research and Training Facility

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The SDSU Dairy Research and Training Facility (DRTF) is located 1½ miles north of the SDSU campus at 3219 Medary Avenue, north of SD Hwy 14.  It is used as a teaching laboratory for undergraduate and graduate students, and for adult and continuing education. It also provides opportunity for research for Dairy and Food Science faculty and students. The DRTF produces all of the milk that is processed at the SDSU Dairy Plant.

Herd Demographics

Milk is harvested twice daily from 130 Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cows. The entire dairy herd consists of about 150 mature cows, including 115 Holsteins and 35 Brown Swiss, and approximately 140 head of replacement heifers consisting of both Holstein and Brown Swiss breeds.


Free-stall/Milking Center

DRTF Freestalls
DRTF Milking parlor

The lactation herd is housed in a free-stall barn/milking center constructed in 1994. This unit consists of four pens, each containing 38 stalls with mattress surfaces. Mattress surfaces are bedded with chopped straw. In two of the pens, cows access their daily ration through a fence-line feed table accessible to a portable mixing wagon. The other two pens are constructed to allow monitoring of individual feed intakes using a Calan door feeding system. Pens are equipped with fans and a sprinkler system for summer cooling and natural ventilation is provided through curtained sidewalls. The milking facility is a double-8 rapid-exit parallel design. Electronic meters and identification systems collect data daily on milk production of each cow. This information is relayed to a central computer and combined with data stored in a master database on animal health, reproduction and performance. All data is compiled by Heart of America Dairy Herd Improvement Association and Dairy Record Management Services.

Youngstock and Non-lactating Cows

DRTF Youngstock

Calves are housed in individual hutches until about they are two months of age and then moved to group housing. Older heifers and dry cows are housed in outside lots with fence-line feeding. The transition barn, for cattle preparing for lactation, contains free-stall housing . This facility also allows for feeding at fence-line bunks or a through a controlled Calan door feeding system.


At calving, cows are housed in a maternity/hospital unit that was remodeled for these purposes in 1998. Cows are housed or milked in this unit until they are fully recovered from the calving process and ready to join the lactation herd in the free-stall/milking center. This facility is also used for housing animals during more intensive research projects.

Feeding Facilities

Feed is mixed and delivered to all cattle by a vertical mixing wagon. For research purposes, cows on experiments have individual diets mixed in a Calan Data Ranger feeder. Diets consist primarily: of corn silage, stored in two 2500 Ton bunkers; alfalfa haylage, stored in airtight poly bags; alfalfa hay; corn/soybean meal-based concentrates; and numerous commodities such as corn distillers grains, whole cottonseed and soybean hulls stored on the farm depending on pricing and availability.



DRTF Undergrads

The Dairy Farm is a hands-on laboratory for many of the courses taught in Dairy and Food Science providing students with the opportunity to experience and apply the practical aspects of dairy herd management. The facilities are used for practical demonstrations in classes such as Introduction to Dairy Science, Dairy Cattle Evaluation, Dairy Cattle Breeds and Breeding, Dairy Cattle Feeding, and Dairy Farm Management. The Dairy Farm is the core of our Dairy Field Experience for Dairy Production Majors. Additionally, the Dairy Farm provides employment opportunities for 20 to 30 Dairy Science and SDSU students each year. Students are involved in all aspects of the Dairy Farm including maternity and calf care, reproductive and health activities, feeding and milking as well as management functions involved with record keeping and records analysis.


Graduate students in Dairy Science are expected to conduct on-farm research projects acquainting them with experimental design for livestock research as well as livestock handling and feeding techniques. Graduate students also have the opportunity to assist faculty with undergraduate teaching in on-farm laboratory classes.

Continuing Education and Extension

The Dairy Farm serves as classroom and laboratory for numerous short course type experiences such as milking management schools, feed-bunk management demonstrations, and animal insemination short courses.


DRTF Graduate Research

Research conducted at the Dairy Farm involves experiments and demonstrations on nutrition and management by Dairy and Food Science faculty and the Dairy Science Extension Specialist. Graduate student assistants are in charge of most of the research. Many undergraduate students also participate in research by serving as animal caretakers or as independent researchers sponsored by numerous fellowship and undergraduate research programs. Experiments being conducted on the Dairy Farm are investigating: feeding agricultural co-products such as corn distillers grains, biofuel co-products, soy products and novel commodities and feedstuffs; modification of milk composition such as increasing healthful fatty acid content by feeding oilseeds and lipids in dairy cow diets; improving health of dairy cows through management and feeding programs for transition and recently fresh dairy cows. Milk produced from many of the nutrition experiments is processed in the dairy manufacturing laboratories on campus for further investigations into the effects of these changes on milk processing characteristics.