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Sheep, cows, and horses: Get to know the farms at MSU

Lamb at MSU
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-26 12:27:22-04

LANSING, Mich. — Old MacDonald's farm is pretty popular. But did you know that there are seven farms at Michigan State University?

Here's a look at a few you and your family can check out.

MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center

Grab some carrots and stop by the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center. Seven days a week you are allowed to walk through the farm and get a look at some high-quality horses.

Grab some carrots and stop by the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center. Seven days a week you are allowed to walk through the farm and get a look at some high-quality horses.

"They are national winning Arabian horses and we're pretty consistently ranked in the top 25 breeders of national champions," said Paula Hitzler, manager of the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center.

MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center

The farm has been at the university since the 1930s, started with a donation in 1938 from Kelloggs founder W. K. Kellogg. The farm runs an Arabian horse breeding program and uses the horses to teach students at the university.

On this 100-acre farm, you will be able to see the mares and foals spending time together and other horses lounging around and just looking plain cute.

On this 100-acre farm, you will be able to see the mares and foals spending time together and other horses lounging around and just looking plain cute.

"It's fine if they want to bring carrots to feed the horses but please just make it carrots. We have some people that bring celery and bread and those are not appropriate feed for the horse," Hitzler said.

MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center

You can walk through the three large barns on the farm and look at all the stalls.

The farm is open to the public from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. It's located at 3327 Collins Road in Lansing.

MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center
If you like counting sheep or just want to pet one the MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center is for you.

MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center

It's made up of two facets. The main barn is off of Hagadorn Road and you can find lambs there.

If you like counting sheep or just want to pet one the MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center is for you.

"Our rams are also housed up there in what we call our west shed which is next to the main facility," said, Tristian Foster farm manager "The other unit is going to be the lambing facility off of Bennett Road. There is where we actually give birth to all the lambs year-round."

Foster says they have about three different lambing seasons throughout the year. So you will be able to see a lot of newborn lambs running around. You are allowed to pet them if they let you but you're not allowed to go inside of their pens.

MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center

The 90-acre farm gives students at MSU the chance to help maintain the sheep on campus and do research.

The farm doesn't do guided tours but you're allowed to stop by from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

MSU Beef Center

Foster is also the farm manager at the MSU Beef Cow-Calf Teaching Research Center and the Beef Cattle Teaching Research Center. He says they don't get a lot of visitors but they are open to the public.

Foster is also the farm manager at the MSU Beef Cow-Calf Teaching Research Center and the Beef Cattle Teaching Research Center. He says they don't get a lot of visitors but they are open to the public.

"At the cow-calf unit, it's exactly what it sounds like. We have mom cows that give birth to calves every single year. They are housed outdoor year-round," Foster said.

They have one barn that they use for calving. After the calves have been weaned from their moms they are moved to the feedlot where they are raised for human consumption.
"At the cow-calf, anyone is welcome to walk around outside the main facility and look out into the pastures. We don't encourage people to go into the pastures just because if gates get open then we have animals out," Foster said.

At the feedlot people will be able to see a lot of cattle individually housed or grouped together in pens. Unlike sheep, cows have a flight zone and tend to run away from people.

You can also take a stroll down the feeding alleys and see what the cattle are being fed. And if you have a question, Foster says, just ask one of the staff members.

"I think it's a really important aspect to understand where our food comes from."

"I think it's a really important aspect to understand where our food comes from. We're all production animal facilities," Foster said. "Usually, that steak that you might purchase at a grocery store, we've been raising it for two years prior to that. So there's a huge long process in that and it's important to know what goes behind the food that we consume."

MSU Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center
Why buy a cow when you can see them for free at the MSU Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center?

The farm is a training facility for students and open to the public. Like a typical dairy farm, they milk about 250 cows three times a day.

Running 24 hours a day, some of the daily chores include cleaning the cow facilities and feeding and milking them.

"We have cows that have babies almost on a daily and then those cows start producing milk and we milk them through our milking parlor," said Jim Good, dairy farm manager.

MSU Dairy Teaching and Research Center

You're able to walk into some of the barns and get close enough to pet a cow.

"They can see what a cow eats on a daily basis and they can watch the routine of a cow," Good said. "We have some calf facilities too they can look at the calves and see the different growth stages that the animals go through."

You're able to walk into some of the barns and get close enough to pet a cow.

And, as long as you're supervised, you can also get a look inside the milking parlor and see how the cows are milked. Good says the average cow at the farm gives about 12 gallons of milk a day.

The farm is a part of a co-op called the Michigan Producer Association. Every morning the milk gets picked up and Good says it's hitting the store shelves within 24 to 48 hours.

MSU Dairy Teaching and Research Center

If you would like a tour, Good says you can ask him. Otherwise, the farm is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

If you would like more information about MSU farms, click here.

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