cows in field

Alfred State Picks Site for New Dairy

By Brian Baker, Director of the Center for Organic and
Sustainable Agriculture at Alfred State

Alfred State College announced the site selected for its new facilities to teach dairy production. Near both Highway 244 and the Alfred village line, the location is convenient for students, services, and members of the public.

The new site is expected to use energy, materials, and land resources efficiently while teaching organic and conventional production. Original renderings show the structures in a shallow v-shaped configuration with organic and conventional dairy barns both joined to a common milking parlor. Both herds will have doors that allow for access to some of the richest pasture on the college farm. The cost of road building, potential erosion caused by new road cuts, and the ability for milk trucks to have access to the facility in all seasons were considered in the selection of the site. The proposed design has a robotic milking system in the organic barn. The conventional parlor will have a double-eight herringbone parlor able to serve as a backup for the organic system if the robotic system is down for an extended period.

The barns in the first architectural renderings show a capacity for 60 lactating cows each with additional capacity for dry cows and a box stall for special needs. Separate structures will be built to house the calves and heifers. The lactating cows will be bedded in freestalls. Feed and milk will be stored in a way that does not compromise the integrity of the organic herd and production.
Currently under consideration is whether the bedding used for the freestalls will be sand or mattresses with organic matter, such as straw or sawdust. While sand has proven superior for cow comfort and lower mastitis, it has not yet been determined whether these advantages outweigh the additional costs for equipment, operation, maintenance, and manure management when compared with organic matter used as bedding. The planning committee is discussing ways to have the best of both systems.