State of Michigan


The Michigan Agricultural College devoted considerable energy to the study of the care and management of farm animals and products generated by them.  The development of the dairying program, which formed the heart of this segment of the agricultural course, depended upon a quality herd of purebred animals. Manly Miles introduced dairying to the campus when he purchased some Ayrshires 1867, but the early herd was not impressive.  It appears that Samuel Johnson. professor of practical agriculture, bought the first registered cow, a Friesien, in 1881. After his arrival in 1893, Clinton Smith built up the purebred herd, especially Holsteins, through experimental feeding and breeding. As the program expanded, so did the need for new space. Initially, dairy classes were taught in the basement of the old Agricultural Laboratory building (now Albert C. Cook Hall).  They were moved to a new dairy building in 1900. This structure had been built, in part, because of lobbying of the legislature by the Michigan Dairymen's Association for the erection and equipment of a suitable dairy building, at the agricultural college. In 1913 the department relocated into the new and larger Dairy Building, located at the north end of Farm Lane.

Practical dairying required students to spend time in the barn, the dairy, and the field, as well as in the classroom, the shop, and the laboratory.  In 1896 the Department of Agriculture's curriculum called for students to gain knowledge of soils, fences, crops, accounts, and planning of farm work in addition to acquiring minimal skills in blacksmithing and carpentry.  Students spent two hours a day for ten weeks in the barns learning the characteristics of horses, cattle, sheep, swine, and poultry. A knowledge of chemistry was a prerequisite before studying stock feeding during the first six weeks of winter term of the sophomore year. At mid term, the students moved to the dairy, where they became familiar with creamers, separators, and churns among other equipment.  They also learned how to use the Habrock best and the importance of pasteurization and sterilization when processing milk and cream. Dr. Charles E. Marshall came to M.A.C. in 1896, and his research informed his teaching concerning the role played by bacteria in processing milk into the marketable commodities of bottled milk, condensed milk, cheese, cream, ice cream, and butter.

In 1935 a number of departments in the college focused on different aspects of animal industries. Animal husbandry courses covered the breeds of beef cattle, horses, sheep and swine, in addition to feeding and judging animals and the production of meat. Dairy husbandry taught the production of milk products, judging of dairy cattle and breeds, barn practice, and farm management. Students learned how to cull, feed, house, judge, market, breed, incubate, and board poultry in courses offered by the poultry husbandry department. The soils department dealt with the composition and classification of soils, soil physics, fertility, fertilizers, and the modification of soil through tillage.

Excerpt from the "Michigan Agricultural College" The Evolution of A Land-Grant Philosophy ... By Keith R. Widder (Copywright 2005)




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