Western’s 20 head dairy herd originated in the early 1920’s on the campus farm located at 17th street and Russellville Road. The raw milk was delivered to the students and faculty. The herd outgrew the campus location and in 1930 it was moved to the rented Covington farm. The Covington farm was purchased in 1934 and the dairy barn did not meet U.S.P.H.S. code. A new dairy barn was constructed in 1943-1945 and this facility is still used today. The 1938 dairy inventory showed 29 Jerseys and 13 Holsteins and in 1943 there were 52 Jerseys and 48 Holsteins. By the early 1970’s as a result of some donated cows from Robthom farm in Missouri, Western’s herd had become one of the top herds in the U.S. and was featured on the cover of the June 25, 1976 Holstein World and had 5 Honor List cows. In addition, several Brown Swiss cows were donated in the late 1960’s. The dairy suffered a severe loss of genetics in June 1980 when lightning killed 15 cows and injured 5 others. Jerseys were added in the late 1980’s.
The barn built in 1945 was used as a stanchion barn that housed the cows but the herd outgrew the facility and a free stall barn was built in 1965. In the early 1980’s one end of the stanchion barn was converted to a 12 stall flat barn parlor and in 2002 a double 6 herringbone parlor was built in the rear of the stanchion barn. Wind destroyed the free stall barn in 2003 and the herd was without winter protection. The herd had a long history of combating Johne’s disease without much success. Starting in 2004 the herd became a National Johne’s Disease Demonstration herd and many cows were culled and about 15 top pedigree Holstein and Jersey cows were purchased to repopulate the herd. A new bedded pack – free stall barn was built in 2007 and the present herd, 2008, consists of about 39 milking and dry cows.
Thanks to Dr. Britt for the history of the WKU Dairy!