Approximately a half mile from Michigan State University’s main campus you can find farms and research facilities separating the campus from the surrounding community. Being one of the largest agricultural colleges in the nation, the different farm properties research everything from livestock, feed and more.
Earlier this year, I was invited to tour the MSU Dairy Research facility and took Goonie with me. The facility raises dairy cows from birth and throughout their lives. Our tour included stops at the new born cow stables, through the grain silos that make up the special blend that the cows are fed, the milking stations and even through the stables where the cows have cannulas installed.
The purpose of the MSU Dairy Research is to find the best nutrition for the dairy cows on the facility and throughout the state. That is where the cannula comes into play, it’s a surgically installed port in the side of a handful of the cows on the property. With a seal on the side, the top can be removed that provides access to the cows stomach and the partially digested items inside. This gives researchers an idea of what is actually working for the cows, and seeing how their bodies process it. It also is useful if they need some of the digestive fluids to help boost other cows immune system.
From finding the perfect blend of fibers, forages and grains for the nutritional needs of the cows to seeing how they can make sure they stay healthy and happy the MSU Dairy Research Facility takes a special interest in the health of every animal on the facility. The research done at the facility can not only lead to healthier cows on campus, but can change how future dairy farms function and cows are fed.
If you’re curious where the dairy goes from the cows on campus, don’t worry we have an answer for that too! The dairy from the research facility is made into the cheese curds you all love and can get at the Dairy Store on campus. Other milk is sent to processing facilities throughout the state for general consumption as well.
While visiting, we were not only able to pet the cows on the property but were given the opportunity to actually reach inside the cannula and feel the inside of a cow’s stomach. This is an odd sensation and one that not many people out of the research facility get to do. The facility does offer public tours at different points throughout the year where you can see the facility as well as experience a cannula. For more information on MSU Dairy Research please check out their website.
Get a better look inside the MSU Dairy Research Facility:
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