CSU, Chico

Organic Dairy Unit

Organic Dairy Unit

Two students milking cows

The College of Agriculture converted 85 acres of the University Farm to organic production in 2006 for the purposes of developing an educational model for integrated organic livestock and cropping systems. Organic agriculture continues to grow and is a thriving segment of the agricultural industry. There is a great need for educational programs and applied research to support the growing number of organic farmers, particularly those involved in livestock systems. With the support of the Agriculture Research Initiative (ARI), the University converted it's conventional dairy to an organic, pasture-based production system, creating the first University-based Organic Dairy Program in the entire western region.

The program supports 80 Jersey-X cows, milked in a seasonal, intensive grazing system. Cows are calved in January-March, grazed on irrigated pastures from March through October and are finally dried down in December when the pastures are dormant and the students depart from campus for the holidays. The program is run by the Dairy Management Team (DMT), a group of students who are selected by interview to work at the dairy. The DMT is responsible for all aspects of the program, ensuring that students are learning every aspect of organic dairy production practices, including milking, milking hygiene, ration formulation and feeding, calving, breeding, pasture management and rotations, seeding, pasture fertilization, irrigation and integrated pest management.  Students are also exposed to budgets, nutrient management plans, organic certification guidelines and waste management regulations.

Dr. Cynthia Daley, professor in the College of Agriculture, serves as the director of the Organic Dairy Program and can be reached at cdaley@csuchico.edu (office: 530.898.6280); Darby Heffner is the dairy manager and can be reached at dheffner@csuchico.edu (office: 530-898-6022). 

Please see the following link to access more detailed information on the students involved in the Dairy Management Team, and a complete summary of research activities completed at the unit: http://www.chicostateorganicdairy.com