Morrisville State College dairy students gain real-world experience evaluating local dairy farm

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MORRISVILLE, NY—With a measuring tape in her hand, Morrisville dairy student Leila Richmond dutifully determined the dimensions of a large tie stall barn at Ju-Vindale Holsteins, a dairy farm in Cazenovia.

The measurements were part of her assignment in the college’s Dairy Herd Management class taught by Steve Mooney, associate professor of dairy science and department chair, to determine the feeding and drinking space allotted for cows in the facility.

The project enables students to apply theory and classroom learning to real-world situations while facilitating an exchange of ideas among students and dairy producers to help maintain and develop the industry.

“It is a motivator and an opportunity for students to learn,” Mooney said. “Going out to a farm makes lessons stick better than a test. The evolution of an idea is what I want from these farm projects.” 

Students were also evaluating ventilation, special needs, and the feeding and milking system to provide recommendations for Juliet and Vince Wagner, owners of Ju-Vindale Holsteins since 2008. 

“This specific trip enabled students to see a very well-designed tie stall barn and to hear the reasons behind each design point,” Mooney said. 

A superior tie stall design optimizes airflow, keeps feed and water within cows’ reach and enables efficient manure removal—creating an environment where production can flourish.

The Wagner's 162-acre farm is home to 150 head of registered Holsteins, which includes 80 cows and 70 calves and heifers. The farm, which specializes in high-quality milk and is also a New York certified raw milk farm, has earned them consecutive Dairy of Distinction designations. 

“This is an example of a great facility,” said Shayla Peters, of Vernon Center, a student in Morrisville’s dairy management bachelor’s degree program. “There is a lot of good cow comfort here.” 

The hands-on classroom venture adds another dimension to Peters’ goal to be a dairy nutritionist someday.

For Richmond, of Eden, it advanced ideas that may help her with plans to take over her family’s seventh-generation dairy farm someday. 

“This gives me great experience and helps me gauge how things should be in the industry,” she said. 

Students were also tasked to provide recommendations and ideas to the Wagners about how to get more money for plummeting milk prices, a nationwide dilemma. 

Morrisville State College’s curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs. 

The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings.