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Dairy

The First Old West Dairy Barn (1857) at Penn State
The first Old West dairy barn (1857) included
housing for both dairy cows and swine plus a
creamery. The shacks in foreground included
laundry, cook house, mess hall and dormitory for
students and workers while Old Main was being built.
These buildings were located behind the present Old
Main and where Carnegie Building is located.


The Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1887. Before the departments of Dairy Husbandry and Animal Husbandry were established, several people shared the instructional work for all animal species. William Caldwell was placed in charge of dairy studies in 1888, but left to become Secretary of the American Guernsey Cattle Club. He was succeeded by Harry Hayward in 1894. The Dairy Husbandry department with offices in Patterson Building was organized in 1905. Professor H. E. Van Norman was head with responsibilities across all animal species. In 1907 the Department of Animal Husbandry became a separate unit with Professor Mairs as chair. Thus, for the first time, there were two departments with separate leadership. The new Agricultural Building, dedicated in 1906 and later named the Armsby Building, became the home of the faculties for both Animal Husbandry and the Institute of Animal Nutrition.

Many believe that Extension work in Dairy and Animal Science began with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. However, numerous Extension-type activities were underway before that time. If Agricultural Extension can be described as carrying the teaching of agriculture to the people beyond the campus, then the "Farmers Institutes" and other agricultural teaching began in 1877 and were carried out in various ways and locations. It was soon evident that this type of teaching created a hardship for faculty who were expected to continue to teach in the classroom on campus.

Penn State's Board of Trustees met on January 23, 1907, and took action to create the Agricultural Extension Service in Pennsylvania. Alva Agee of Wooster, Ohio, was hired as the first superintendent of Agricultural Extension. In January 1910, M. S. McDowell was transferred from a teaching position to the Department of Agricultural Extension, thus creating a two-man Extension Service. When Agee resigned in 1912 to accept a similar position in New Jersey, McDowell was appointed Director of Extension and served in that capacity until he retired in 1941. On March 1, 1910, A. B. Ross was appointed as the first county agricultural agent in the United States and was assigned to Bedford County. Pennsylvania had 13 county agents by the time funding from the Smith-Lever Act became available in 1915. Before that time, most had been funded by local Farm Bureau units.

In the early 1900s, most farms kept a variety of livestock: cows, horses, sheep, swine, and poultry. Livestock numbers were small, and by today's standards, such farms would be classified as subsistence agriculture. The work of the early livestock specialist in teaching the basics of feeding and management was limited by the amount of technical information available and, in many cases, took the form of reporting what was working for others. The agents could not be experts in all fields, and they came to rely on "specialists" from each of the departments on campus. Funding and administrative supervision of the specialists was under the Director of Extension until the early 1970s, when these responsibilities were transferred to the appropriate department heads.

Old Main and Surrounding Barns and Shacks, pre-1897, at Penn State
After Old Main was completed, the shacks were
removed. This barn and out buildings were lost to
fire in 1897.

L. C. Tompkins was an instructor in dairy husbandry starting in 1913. He taught courses on campus, but also had educational duties in the field. Tompkins resigned in 1918 and was replaced by Roscoe Welch. Prior to that time, Welch had been a USDA-sponsored Community Development agent and had organized the first Pennsylvania bull ring in Mercer County in 1916. Welch did extension work in dairy from 1919 to 1921, when a funding shortage caused him to seek other employment. Welch returned to the dairy department in 1926 and continued to do extension work until his retirement in 1948.

As mentioned earlier, William H. Caldwell was appointed in 1888 as the first instructor to teach dairy subject matter in a winter short course type of setting, even though instruction and research in dairy was not organized into a specific department until 1905. The first classroom was in a structure at the site of the "Old West Barns." Patterson Hall was built in 1904, and within the year the newly-created department moved to more adequate teaching and research facilities that included a creamery. The first college credit course in the manufacture of ice cream was held in 1905. About 1910, as the dairy industry became more specialized, instruction and research in dairy subjects was divided into dairy production and dairy manufacturing options.

In 1915 the Stock Judging Pavilion (now the Pavilion Theatre) was constructed and provided facilities for the evaluation of meat animals and the educational work related to the processing and handling of meat and its by-products. Another development that impacted the staff was the merging of the college poultry program with the Animal Husbandry department in 1908, an arrangement that continued until 1920. In 1923 Dr. James F. Shigley joined the Department of Animal Husbandry and established a pre-vet curriculum that continued until 1953.

Borland Lab was completed in 1932. Both the Dairy Department and the creamery were moved from Patterson Hall to the new facility. In 1954 the Dairy Husbandry Department was renamed the Dairy Science Department. In 1966, Dr. Stuart Patton became the first faculty member from the department to be named an Evan Pugh Professor. Patton had started his Penn State career in 1949, and his work in the micro-chemistry of food flavors, primarily those in milk and dairy products, gained world-wide attention for the department. He pioneered the use of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry in flavor research and was among the first to develop an interest in lipids as a factor in heart disease and to study milk and lactation in humans.

The departments of Animal Nutrition and Animal Husbandry were combined to form the Animal Science Department under the leadership of Dr. Russell Miller in 1960. The Animal Science faculty moved from Armsby to the third floor of Henning Building in 1969.

In 1976 Dairy Manufacturing faculty joined with selected personnel from several other departments, to become the core of the newly-formed Food Science Department. The Dairy Production and Dairy Extension units were then merged with their Animal Science counterparts to form the Department of Dairy and Animal Science with B. R. Baumgardt as head. Since 1990 the department has occupied the third floor in both the Henning Building and the inter-connected Agricultural Science and Industries Building.

Authors: Donald L. Ace, Professor of Dairy Science,  Larry W. Specht, Professor of Dairy Science