Dairy Cattle

Dairy Unit

Tom Cully

Tom Cully

DVM, Professor of Practice



The dairy unit provides facilities needed to meet the research, teaching, and extension needs of the Indiana dairy industry. Currently, 190 dairy cows and 190 dairy herd replacements call this home.  The herd is predominantly made up of Holstein cows, but also contains a small percentage of Brown Swiss cows, used for teaching purposes.  The Dairy staff is made up of the manager, one assistant manager, six FTE technicians, along with several part-time student workers (equivalent to approximately four FTEs).

The main building is temperature-controlled using air from two geothermal fields. This unit houses a manager's office, herdsman's office, conference room, restrooms for visitors, a bulk tank room, the milking parlor and holding area, an observation deck so visitors can view the milking operation, two tie-stalls, a maternity ward, a metabolism/analytical lab, and locker rooms for employees, students, and staff.

The milking parlor is a double eight-herringbone milking system, with a computerized automatic cow ID milk meter system, automatic removal devices, back flush, stainless steel raceways, CIP equipment, fresh water flush, and 3,000-gallon bulk milk cooler. The cow holding and work area includes electronic scales for weighing animals, an area to catch and hold animals, additional space for demonstrations and classes, and a central area for the working and sorting of animals.

The metabolism unit has space to collect feces and urine from up to 8 animals individually (male or female), and stanchions for up to 10 animals for intensive studies. All animals can be individually fed and milked in place using a portable milker. It is also equipped with a small milk tank room containing a 300-gallon, self-contained refrigerator tank to store milk from cows milked in the metabolism area. The analytical laboratory, adjacent to the metabolism unit, has a walk-in cooler and freezer for storage of animal samples and processed feed.

The maternity area has 10 pens available with individual water bowls and feed mangers. Each pen has a lock-in stanchion with feed box and diamond-grooved surfaces to provide proper footing.  This area also has 2 pens to keep newborn calves until they are moved into their individual housing.  Additionally, this area contains a Vet Room to keep medications, and a cow chute with lighting for veterinary treatment.

There are two tie-stall barns, one with 32 stalls and the other with 40 stalls for individual handling and feeding experiments. These tie-stall barns are divided into two sides with an even number of stalls on either side.  Every stall has an individual water bowl, and the cows in these areas are fed individually. Additionally, both sides of the tie-stall contain a gutter with standing fresh water for intermittent flushing. The temperature is controlled by geothermal inlets at the end of each tie stall area. Each tie-stall area has access to mounded, dirt exercise lots when needed.

The herd barn features a non-heated environment with ridge and sidewall ventilation and 136 free stalls in four quadrants. Each one of these lots can be further divided into two groups, containing 17 in each. Electronic gates can be installed in place of self-locking stanchions for individual feed intake. Floor feeding, delivered with a mixer wagon, is used for group feeding. Recycled lagoon water is used to flush the freestall alleys using air controlled pop-up valves.  Each quadrant also has access to a mounded, dirt exercise lot.

Also on site is a calf barn. Previously used to house calves, it is now used predominantly as central work area for processing milk-replacer and other feeds. Calves are now housed and fed in individual hutches until approximately 7 weeks of age.  At this time they are moved into group hutches for approximately 7 weeks. 

The feed center includes a 32' x 120' building with seven silos of various sizes and eight supplement bins attached around its perimeter. It houses a small office, tool and parts room, and bagged feed storage. Nearby are two bunker silos, (36' x 78' x 12') with a total capacity of approximately 1600 tons and a barn (40' x 192') for storage of hay and other bulk ingredients such as cottonseed.  Additionally, many of the bulk feed ingredients, such as corn silage and haylage, are stored nearby in Ag-Bags.

The dry cow barn is an open-front facility, approximately 48' x 100', and is used for loose housing. This barn is divided into two pens; far-off and pre-fresh.  The pre-fresh side of the barn has access to an exercise lot, while the far-off side has access to a larger pasture area.

An underground cement storage tank is used to collect liquid manure from the herd barn, tie- stall barns and the parlor. This waste is then pumped over an inclined-screen solids-liquid separator. Recovered solids are stored and composted prior to being returned to the cropland. The liquid portion goes to a two-cell lagoon; effluent from the second cell can then be pumped to tanks at the herd barn for use in flushing. Excess liquid waste from the lagoon is then disposed of on cropland, utilizing nutrients in a growing crop.