From Ayrshires to Red and White Holsteins, NC State is now home to the seven major breeds of dairy cows.
When the Animal Science Club purchased three Milking Shorthorns last year for NC State’s herd of dairy cows, it was clearly a moo-mentous occasion. For starters, the cows’ minders believe NC State is now the only university that can claim to have all seven major breeds of dairy cows.
It was also the realization of a dream that Devan Pendry ’14 has had since she was an undergraduate member of the Animal Science Club. “When I was a student, we only had Holsteins and Jerseys,” says Pendry, who now manages NC State’s dairy herd while working toward a master’s in animal science. “I thought it would be cool to have more. It would be neat for the students.”
There are practical considerations, as well. It gives students a chance to work with different breeds, which may be useful in future jobs. Pendry also says it’s important for the university to play a role in conserving various species, some of which are endangered. Finally, it provides opportunities for increased public awareness.
Pendry hopes to exhibit all seven breeds at the milking booth at the N.C. State Fair at some point. “Let students and the public know there’s more than just Holsteins and Jerseys, as wonderful as they are,” she says.
NC State has about 350 dairy cows in its herd, all of them with unique names. Dairy farmers sometimes give calves names that link them to their mothers — a cow named “Waffle,” for instance, has a calf named “Strudel.” NC State’s herd also includes a Jersey named “Tuffy” and a Holstein named “Finley.”
“I had a Ms. Wuf,” Pendry says, “but she’s gone now.”