Cal Poly holds off on plan to reduce dairy herd

Cal Poly officials have put on hold plans to reduce the school’s dairy herd by 80 percent.

Alumni and dairy supporters came forward to help the university find a way to keep the herd economically viable in the face of plummeting milk prices, said David Wehner, dean of agriculture.

Several industry professionals sent letters volunteering to help Cal Poly develop a business strategy to keep as many of the school’s 400 dairy animals as possible.

“We’re very grateful that some of the nation’s most savvy dairy producers have offered to work with Cal Poly to help us devise a good business strategy,” Wehner said.

The herd consists of 150 milking cows as well as dry cows and young stock. Dairy Science Department Head Bruce Golden had proposed reducing the milking herd to 30 animals, enough to supply the needs of the Cal Poly creamery, which produces ice cream and cheese.

Prices for raw milk have dropped drastically in the last year to levels below what it costs to produce it. The state budget crisis has also caused cutbacks in the dairy science department’s budget.

If reductions to the herd are necessary, Cal Poly officials have promised to restore the herd as soon as market conditions improve.