High upon a hill overlooking the SUNY Morrisville campus, students, faculty and staff are working long before the sun rises.
Some are milking cows in the college’s high-tech milking parlor, while others are recording data on computers, pushing feed and performing other necessary tasks.
The college made way for the Arnold R. Fisher Dairy Complex, located on the west side of Eaton Street, based on industry needs and has been feeding it qualified graduates since its completion in Sept. 2001. Cows came in 2002 along with students ready to grasp a new era in teaching in learning.
This year, the SUNY Morrisville dairy facility celebrated its 20th anniversary with kudos, receiving a 2022 Progressive Genetics Herd Award by Holstein Association USA, Inc.
The award recognizes SUNY Morrisville’s accomplishments in breeding a Holstein herd that has achieved high standards of genetic merit. It marks the sixth consecutive year the dairy program has received the recognition.
“Optimizing herd genetics is essential to maximize operations on any dairy farm. A high standard of genetic merit in a dairy herd is associated with efficiency and profitability,” said Tony Contento, dean of the School of Agriculture, Business & Technology.
Eligibility for the award is determined by calculating the average total performance index (TPI) for all females in the herd. Additional requirements include a minimum of 20 cows in the milking herd with CTPIs and the herd classified during the period of September 2020 through February 2022.
“We are also grateful for the managers, faculty and staff who work diligently and dedicate themselves to maintaining the high standards of excellence across the Arnold R. Fisher Dairy Complex,” Contento said. “We take pride in our dairy herd and share our success with our students through our robust, applied academic programs.”
Students are involved in many aspects of the dairy, including the genetic merit of the herd. During the Autumn Review sale, held every fall, students are responsible for the selection of elite cattle from top herds across the northeast, to advertising and marketing them for a successful sale.
Students also can have a role in genetic selection and integrate genetic goals for the dairy to improve the dairy operation’s profitability.
About the dairy facility
The college operates its dairy operation on a business enterprise model, much like a commercial farm.
In an environment where the latest technology, equipment and methodology are at their fingertips, students gain experience in real-world situations learning technical and entrepreneurial aspects of the dairy industry.
The result is well-trained graduates who have experience in freestall facility management and business management and hands-on experience managing freestall operations.
The state-of-the-art free-stall dairy facility houses 160 milking cows as well as an electronically enhanced milking parlor and a student-managed computer system. The college is in the process of using their own milk to make its own cheese and milk products.
The facility also features two growing heifer barns, a weaned heifer barn, a calf barn, a maternity barn and a livestock/show barn to provide students with a true hands-on experience. The college’s 500 acres of cropland ensure a supply of forages for the herd.
SUNY Morrisville offers two dairy programs, an associate degree in animal science – dairy and a bachelor’s degree in dairy management.