When it comes to national rankings, Mississippi State University is at the top of the list for its prize-winning herd of Jersey cows. Ha. You thought you were dreaming, huh?
For years I’ve been conducting a one-woman campaign to get State renamed the Cowboys – forget the dawgs. Back in the day, we called State “cow college,” or was that just the Ole Miss student body doing that?
The American Jersey Cattle Association ranked the Mississippi State University dairy herd at No. 7 in milk production for 2010. The only university-owned herd to make the top rankings, the dairy herd has been ranked in the top 10 for the last four years. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
The university’s herd, which also includes 107 Holsteins, produces more than 3 million pounds of milk annually, the equivalent of about 369,000 gallons. I’m guessing that’s the basis for the wonderful MSU cheeses and ice cream. I tried the new Sweet Potato ice cream last week and it was delicious.
MSU dairy herdsman Kenneth Graves attributes the high ranking of the herd to genetics.
“Several factors go into selecting bulls to mate with the dairy cows,” Graves said. “We look at their feet and legs and bone structure.”
Graves is also using DNA analysis to find the right bull for his cows.
Terry Kiser, head of MSU’s Animal and Dairy Science Department, said the herd is one of the oldest continually bred university-owned Jersey herds in the nation, and the only herd in the South to be placed in the rankings.
“This accomplishment speaks volumes about our dairy management and staff who work 365 days a year taking care of the herd,” Kiser said.