Just off Dryden Road, past the Cornell Orchards, one can smell a faint scent of manure. The new aroma is thanks to the newly opened Cornell Dairy Barn, a fully functioning barn that, since its opening this fall, has housed 94 dairy cows.
The barn –– with modern architecture resembling an airport hangar and the capacity to hold 180 cows and 30 calves –– sets its cows’ comfort as a high priority, according to Jerry Willis, the supervisor of the barn.
“It’s all about comforting the cows,” Willis said.
According to Willis, some of the barn’s “comforting” amenities include automatic grooming brushes, stalls that allow cows to roam about freely and sand bedding.
“The sand is actually more comfortable for the cows and less costly than hay for us,” Willis said.
The barn will also serve as an educational facility for students in Cornell’s Veterinary College, professors said.
“The main purpose of the new Dairy Barn is teaching,” said Prof. Lorin Warnick Ph.D. ’94, ambulatory and production medicine.
According to Warnick, classes from the vet school have already been using the complex for instruction. Vet students can apply for a paid position to milk the cows overnight, he said.
Emily Sabo vet, a student who milks the cows at night, said the Dairy Barn is a great learning opportunity for many vet students — cow-lovers or not.
“It’s really good for people who are interested in cows, or even people who aren’t. You can come see the barn whether it’s your specialty or not,” Sabo said.
The Dairy Barn will also provide learning opportunities for students outside the vet school, Warnick said, noting that the barn is a joint venture between the vet school and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Warnick said that he hopes the barn will ultimately work with the Ithaca community as well.
Willis echoed Warnick’s sentiments, saying, “The barn’s here for the public, 4-H [Youth Development Organization] ... whoever.”
Facilitating the educational and community-outreach goals of the barn is a classroom and observation area, fitted with a glass wall, that looks down on the milking center of the barn.
Prior to the barn’s construction, no teaching dairy barn had been in close proximity to campus.
“The previous dairy barn, which was located on East Campus, had to be leveled to make way for the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center,” Warnick said.
The new barn’s location adjacent to the vet school will make visiting the barn much more convenient for vet students, Willis said.
According to Warnick, the dairy barn is the first space to be completed as part of the vet college’s future Large Animal Teaching Complex. The teaching complex occupies six to eight acres of land and may hold many other livestock facilities in the future, although no other projects are currently underway, according to Warnick.