CFAES conducts survey of animal facilities

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) commissioned an Animal Facilities Re-envisioning Committee to provide recommendations towards a plan and vision for 21st century animal facilities that enhance the research, teaching and outreach missions of the college.

Eighteen CFAES faculty and staff constituted the committee. Ohio State ATI was represented by Gary Crocker, dairy herd manager; Wesley Greene, dairy faculty; and Steven Neal, who is now an assistant dean for CFAES but who served for many years as an ATI faculty member and administrator.

Many of the current animal facilities were constructed in the 1950’s to 1980’s and are past appropriate structural lifetimes and not consistent with today’s production practices. Many of our facilities do not project an appearance that is consistent with the expectations of students, staff, faculty and stakeholders. Current conditions of many facilities impact the attitude of students, staff and faculty that must function in these buildings.

Construction of new facilities or significant renovations will improve student recruitment and training; enhance faculty and staff morale; provide modern, functional and flexible facilities for outreach functions; enhance opportunities for new research and research funding; serve as a gateway for community education; enable compliance with current animal welfare standards; and enhance partnerships with animal commodity groups, industry and other stakeholders in the state of Ohio.

In this report, the committee makes nine recommendations for the college to consider. These recommendations suggest a new vision to reduce duplication of facilities, relocation of some facilities closer to amenities (feed mill) and attempts to utilize appropriate land mass to accommodate new facilities. The recommendations are:

  1. Make the Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory (WANRL) a site for a new multi-species facility that functions as a Center for Teaching, Research and Outreach Excellence in Food and Animal Agriculture. Relocate the equine program from Don Scott Field to WANRL with a new arena and associated facilities for horses. Maintain a smaller dairy herd in support of teaching, research and outreach priorities and provide the appropriate facilities for those programs.
  2. Don Scott Field is envisioned as an excellent location to develop a collaborative program of excellence in forage management and heifer development for beef and dairy cattle. This requires construction of a new cattle facility, relocation of the equine program to WANRL and the existing swine program moving to Wooster. 

  3. Wooster (Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) and the Agriculture Technical Institute (ATI)) would become the site of a new CFAES Dairy and a new swine facility. This would place larger animal units in proximity to the new OARDC Feedstock Research Processing Facility that produces feeds for these herds. 
OARDC and Ohio State ATI would combine their sheep flocks into one. Beef cattle would remain at Ohio State ATI Grace Drake Land Laboratory (GDLL) and in the OARDC Feedlot Facility. A new cattle facility would be constructed at GDLL for this teaching herd and renovations to the feedlot facility are necessary to support a new research program in nutrient management. 
The horse arena at GDLL would be expanded to provide classroom space and public seating for community related programs. 
Poultry research would remain at the OARDC facilities with some renovation required. 

  4. Facilities at the Jackson and Eastern Agricultural Research Stations will require renovations to continue research programs in cattle reproduction and forage management. The cattle herd at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed located in Coshocton will be eliminated. The swine unit at the Western Agricultural Research Station will be eliminated once a new swine facility is completed in Wooster. 

  5. The Food Animal Health Research Program and Department of Animal Sciences need specialized facilities for BSL2 work with animal pathogens. These facilities exist at Wooster but will need renovation to be sustainable. 

  6. Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food industry in the world and Ohio ranks 1st in
pounds of yellow perch sold, number of blue gill produced and 4th in sales of largemouth bass and bait fish in the United States. There is good potential for expansion of research, teaching and outreach programs in this area. Aquaculture facilities should be continued and renovated at South Centers in Piketon and at the William H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park in Columbus. 

  7. Construct new abattoirs for processing of agricultural animals necessary for the meat science programs. These facilities could either be part of the multi-species facility at WANRL or associated with the university food services. It is also proposed to establish an abattoir on the Wooster campus to support a two-year program in meat sciences and provide a facility for the endpoint processing of research animals at that location. 

  8. Changes at WANRL in concert with new facilities at that location, and Wooster, are key drivers of this set of recommendations. Construction of the equine facilities and multi- species facilities at WANRL are the highest priorities. The next major projects are building the new swine and dairy facilities at Wooster. The other facilities recommended for construction or renovation should follow these priorities. 


The Animal Re-envisioning Committee has presented a general roadmap that will become part of the CFAES strategic plan. The committee recognizes that the recommendations in this report are a starting point and may or will be modified through discussions with administration and stakeholders. Critical areas for continued committee discussion are land management relative to the recommendations in this report, consideration of financial aspects and development of a management model for the facilities.

A complete copy of the Animal Facilities Report can be found here.