Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012 12:00 PM
Theresa Hogue/Oregon State University
A cow nudges her newborn calf at the OSU Dairy Center in this file photo from April 2009.
Decision to cut herd follows state-ordered improvements for manure system
By JOE BEACH
Oregon State University has sold half of its dairy herd and has temporarily suspended milking at its dairy center in Corvallis.
Larry Curtis, associate dean college of agricultural sciences, said state budget cuts in recent years had prompted university officials to look at ways to reduce costs and maximize the educational and research value of all of its animal operations. But a malfunction in the dairy center's liquid manure handling system this summer forced their hand.
Earlier this summer, the system used to spread manure on university fields broke, causing manure to flow into Oak Creek. That contamination resulted in a warning from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Curtis said.
ODA and the Department of Environmental Quality inspected the dairy center and its manure-handling system, and mandated upgrades that will cost several hundred thousand dollars, Curtis said. The agencies required the university have a plan in place by July.
Building a larger manure containment facility didn't make sense, Curtis said. In consultation with the Oregon Dairy Association, the university decided to reduce the herd.
"We're downsizing the dairy and going from two breeds to one breed," he said. "We're cutting the size of the herd in half."
The university had maintained a herd of about 160 head, more or less equal numbers of Holsteins and Jerseys, Curtis said. The university has sold its Holsteins and some of its Jerseys, and has kept its bred Jersey heifers.
The dairy center will resume milking next year, he said.