Despite setbacks, new Cow/Calf Unit still on the way

Erin Beck

The Cow/Calf Unit is on the move for greener pastures.

With part of the unit going up in flames last March, the push for relocation has gained in momentum while plans are moving forward to relocate the facility near Volga, roughly ten miles off campus.

The facility is currently located on the north end of campus. Dr. Cody Wright is the faculty supervisor for the Cow/Calf project and is overseeing the relocation.

According to Wright, several factors went into considering what land to purchase. The major player in obtaining the 640 acres near Volga was its availability. Other factors included environmental concerns, as well as who will have access to the unit and conduct research.

“It’s definitely going to be an open door facility, not just a cow/calf research unit,” Wright said. “We’ve had a couple different research projects going on already even though the actual building isn’t up yet.”

Plans for the new facility were moving ahead well before the fire. The animal science department raised $76,000 last year at a Cow/Calf auction at DakotaFest last year in Mitchell and held another auction this year Aug. 23. The new location will include indoor calving and working facilities, a wet lab, meeting spaces and a 16-pen feeding barn on the acreage.

Fundraising for the new Cow/Calf Unit is now focusing on reaching larger donors to help support the project. The design process has received approval to hire an architect and engineers. The pieces are now coming together to present plans of the new unit to future donors.

“We were hoping we’d get to the point of breaking ground this fall or spring, but there’s definitely a process in place working with the Board of Regents and the legislature,” Wright said.

Support and enthusiasm for the new unit have been running high. Various corporations have expressed interest in giving a hand with setting the new unit on its feet. Commodity groups and livestock marketing associations have been involved in formulating ideas for the facility.

“I think people have been really supportive about it,” Wright said. “People don’t see it as a frivolous waste of money.”

Wright also placed emphasis on the construction taking place to update the Swine Unit. He highlighted the need for both facilities to integrate state-of-the-art research. Students need the best experience they can gain before entering the work field, and Wright feels that can best be accomplished through relocating and updating the facilities.

“People have recognized the need for both of these facilities and have seen how much good they’ll do for the industry,” Wright said.

Associate Dean of Agriculture Dr. Daniel Scholl said the new Cow/Calf unit presents his departments with unique prospects.

“A new facility is a new opportunity to prepare our students to be the next generation of on-the-ground leaders in the beef industry,” Scholl said. “The new Cow/Calf Unit represents a big step forward in modernizing research.”

Students see lots of potential in the relocation of the facility.

“It’s a valuable experience in education when you can take what you have learned in the classroom and put it in action at the Cow/Calf Unit. Expanding the facilities will truly improve the animal and range science teaching curriculum,” said 2012 SDSU graduate Sara Berg.

Other students are also supportive of the move.

“I think it’s great,” said Trent Kubik, also a 2012 graduate. “It’s good for the university to have state-of-the-art facilities.”