Originally the only cows on campus were kept by professors’ families. The first dairy cattle (Ayrshires) for the college were bought by Dr. Manley Miles in 1867, with Jerseys added to the herd in 1871, Holsteins (black and white standard) in 1880, and Brown Swiss and Guernseys along the way. Campus boarding halls on campus were acquiring milk from the Farm Department’s early herds by 1871.
The first dedicated Dairy Barn was built in 1900 for 100 cows with a new barn constructed in 1929. The new barn was built with the hope of breaking a disease cycle which had plagued the herd since 1904. The first building containing a plant dedicated to dairy manufacturing, known as the Dairy Building, was built in 1913 and contained a well-equipped creamery for the practical training of students.
Anthony Hall was constructed in 1954 after complaints to the State of Michigan about the poor facilities and outdated equipment at the Dairy Building plant. The dairy plant closed in 1968 in response to local private dairy plant complaints about MSU’s monopoly on the campus milk market, only to reopen in the early 1970s after the local dairies found out how difficult it was to handle the fluctuating demands for milk on a college campus. The plant henceforth ceased to distribute fluid milk and was gutted and refitted with updated equipment in the early 1990s.
The Dairy Plant currently produces shelf-stable cheese and ice cream, the milk for which is supplied by the 180 cows milked on campus and those milked in the Pasture Dairy Center in the Kellogg Biological Station.
Dairy Education and Research
The Dairy Department, and now jointly the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and the Department of Animal Science, have carried on a tradition of instruction of students, research , and outreach since the founding of MSU.
In addition to being the home of the first Dairy Plant, the 1913 Dairy Building housed all dairy courses and faculty offices and contained state-of-the-art laboratories for that time. Graduate courses were added in 1920 and the dairying curriculum was expanded significantly following the appointment of Dr. Ernest L. Anthony as Head of the Dairy Department in 1928.
The Dairy Department (later called the Department of Dairy Science) was ultimately absorbed by the Department of Food Science and the Department of Animal Science.
Research has also been an important component of the dairy curriculum at MSU. Malcolm Trout, a professor at Michigan State between 1928 and 1966, discovered how to homogenize milk by linking it to the process of pasteurization, the combined techniques of which are integral to commercial milk sales.
Much of the current research conducted by the Department of Food Science now focuses on expanding the use of underutilized commodities, using by-products of the meat and dairy processing industries, and determining how the biochemical and physical properties of foods influence their quality and safety.
Outreach and collaboration with Michigan farmers has also been a priority of the dairy department and part of the dairy extension work has been the development of Michigan’s farm youth through organizations such as 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA).
World War II
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, MSC created a summer school program so that students could finish their degrees within two years and move on to serve. New interdisciplinary classes and training programs were imposed to ready the enlisted youth and faculty (nearly 6,200 at the start) for service. Professors believed the soldiers of MSC needed a rounded education to be entirely prepared- after physical training the students were taught foreign languages, map making and aerial photography skills, and geopolitics.
At some points up to 50% of the population on campus were soldiers assigned for training at MSC by the US War Department.
This collection of photographs was gifted to the library by a community member.
See the full photo gallery on Flickr., opens a new window
Bibliography and References
The Udderly Legen-dairy History of Dairying at MSU: Part I, opens a new window
Written by: Susan Kooiman, opens a new window
Primary Source: MSU Campus Archaeology Program Blog, March 2, 2017, opens a new window
Text written by Gary Buckberry - Local History Volunteer and L.A.G. Coordinator