SDSU Cow/Calf Unit plans relocation |

SDSU Cow/Calf Unit plans relocation

Kindra Gordon, for SDSU College of Agriculture & Biological Sciences

South Dakota State University’s (SDSU) Cow/Calf Unit located adjacent to campus has long been an important component of the animal science teaching and research curricula.

From hands-on applications in beef cattle evaluation and reproduction to undergraduate research studies and seedstock merchandising for the University’s annual spring bull sale, the Cow/Calf Unit has been a place where SDSU students gain firsthand beef industry experience.

In the future, those experiences will still be offered by the SDSU Cow/Calf Unit – but at a new location.

Due to flooding issues and campus encroachment, the SDSU Cow/Calf Unit will be relocated to 640 acres approximately 10 miles west and north of the Brookings campus near Volga, SD. Plans for the Cow/Calf Unit Relocation include:

• A main building with conference center and state-of-the-art, functional working facilities that will also be used for cattle handling demonstrations

• A 40-foot by 150-foot calving barn

• A monoslope barn providing protection for 16 drylot pens

• Replicated pastures for grazing management research

The new location and facilities will allow SDSU to expand its cowherd from 110 to 160 head. Clint Rusk, head of the Animal Science Department at SDSU said, “The new Beef Center will allow us to improve our ability to teach hands-on cattle handling in a modern working facility. The new cattle feeding facility will allow our researchers to collect individual feeding data on cows, heifers, bulls, and steers. We envision this to be a state-of-the-art facility that cattle producers from across the state will be proud to support.”

Additionally, South Dakota beef producer Arnold Wienk said, “The beef industry has a major impact on the economy of South Dakota and surrounding states. As SDSU students prepare for their careers in the beef industry, they need to have access to real-world settings and modern technologies to develop their knowledge and skills in the industry. The SDSU Cow/Calf Unit will be an asset in preparing the next generation of beef producers.”

The Cow/Calf Unit design is being developed by a team of senior students in agricultural engineering, along with agricultural engineering and animal science faculty, and an engineer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The team has worked closely with NRCS to develop nutrient management plans and a vegetative treatment area, which will also allow for multi-disciplinary research and demonstrations to be conducted.

The new facilities will also allow for expanded Extension program opportunities at the site, along with 4-H and FFA livestock and judging events. Kevin VanderWal has served as manager of the unit since 1990.

For more information about the relocation, contact Cody Wright at 605-688-5448 or


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