Robotic Milking Process

The automatic milking system collects detailed data of cows body weight, milk yield, milking time, preparation time, rumination time, activity, heat probability, milk color and milk conductivity.






















Measuring Greenhouse Gases

Dr. Santiago you Utsumi, Faculty Research Coordinator of the Kellogg Biological Station’s (KBS) has been the first researcher to adopt GreenFeed in a production environment. The initial GreenFeed installation and testing occurred in one robotic milking machine in September 2010. This unit has been in continuous operation since its deployment recording CH4 and CO2 emissions  in a herd 60 lactating’s cows.

''In early 2012 a twin GreenFeed unit was installed in a second automatic milking machine. Dr. Utsumi now has a capacity to monitor to herds of cows each utilizing different grazing strategies while methane and carbon dioxide fluxes are automatically, continuously and unobtrusively measured. GreenFeed measurements at KBS are made in the context of a comprehensive research program of biogeochemical measurements made in intensively-monitored grazing pastures. The research goal is to develop management practices that balance milk-production efficiencies, cost and long-term sustainability. Greenfield research at KBS has compared gas fluxes in different feeding systems, pasture mixtures of different composition, supplementation levels, breeds an individual animals. One interesting result of the continuous green feed data from individual cows (through the lactation cycle) is the possibility that daily measurements of methane and carbon dioxide emissions may provide an early warning of metabolic disease such as ketosis, DA’s and milk fever. 

Climate Change Research

Impacts of climate change on livestock production are both direct and indirect. Major concerns for farmers are how extreme weather events will affect the quality and quantity of feed production from pasture and other crops, and how animals will adapt to environmental stresses. Cattle contribute to global warming because they produce greenhouse gases through enteric fermentation (digestion). Reducing these omissions particularly methane, is one way to reduce the contribution from livestock to climate change. Scientists at KBS are using the Pasture Dairy Center to study the relationships between greenhouse gas emissions, farming practices and milk production. Climate change research at the Pasture Dairy Center includes:
''cows in field
  • How methane and carbon dioxide production from dairy cows is affected by feed and forage quality.
  • How to decrease the carbon footprint of dairy farmers through management practices that reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage in pastures.
  • How grazing affects plant biodiversity, productivity and other ecosystem processes in pastures.





Layout for Field Experiments

Lactating cows within the Pasture Dairy Center herd are divided into two long-term ‘farmlet systems’: 1) High Stocking Rate and 2) Low Stocking Rate. Within these farmlets, researchers study the effects of dairy management on cow behavior, nutrition and health; forage production and utilization; ecosystem services; and overall productivity. All research involving these animals and the pastures that they graze must fit within the farmlet systems.

''The High Stocking Rate farmlet consists of 60-65 lactating cows grazing 40 acres during a six-month grazing season. Cow numbers remain constant during the non-grazing period (winter). During the grazing season, 60% of the dry matter intake (DMI) comes from pasture with the remainder coming from conserved feeds [20% as a partial mixed ration (pTMR) and 20% concentrate]. During the winter months, the ration consists of 80% from a Total Mixed Ration (TMR), with the remainder being concentrate.  Targets of 2.8 milkings and 65 pounds of milk per cow per day have been set for this group during the grazing season and 3.1 milkings and 75 pounds of milk per cow per day during the winter.

The Low Stocking Rate farmlet consists of 75-85 lactating cows grazing 80 acres during a 7-8 month grazing season. Cow numbers are reduced to 60-65 during the winter. Approximately 60% of this group calve in the spring to allow for the greater cow numbers during the grazing season. During the grazing season, 80% of the DMI is provided by pasture with the remainder coming from concentrate (20%). During the winter, the ration is similar to that of the High Stocking Rate farmlet group. Targets of 2.0 milkings and 55 pounds of milk per cow per day have been set for this group during the grazing season. During the winter, target production is similar to that of the High Stocking Rate farmlet.

Within both farmlet systems, two contrasting forage mixes (simple and complex) are available within the pastures. The simple pasture mix includes perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and white clover (Trifolium repens); while the complex mix includes perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), red clover (Trifolium pratense), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), and white clover (Trifolium repens). Both the simple and complex pasture mixes contain approximately 40% legumes.

The lactating herd consists of approximately 80% U.S. Holstein genetics, with the remaining animals being New Zealand Friesian. The North American Holsteins have a mature body weight of 1400 to 1500 pounds; mature body weight of the Freisians is around 1,000 pounds.

A more detailed description of the farmlet systems, and a pasture map:


MSU Extention Bulletin

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Michigan Dairy Review

Proceedings Papers and Abstracts

Theses and Dissertations


Pasture Management

Pasture management research and innovation at the Pasture Dairy Center is aimed at providing producers with management techniques for successful utilization of forage from pastures. Keys to this success include routine measurement of forage availability, and use of the data collected to make informed decisions regarding pasture allocations and harvest of forage.  

The Pasture Dairy Center manages 240 acres of pasture, including a 160 acre pasture surrounding the Robotic Milking Facility. This focal pasture area is divided into eight 20-acre , and each section is subdivided into eight grazing strips measuring 2.5 acres each.  One hundred and twenty acres of pasture are currently used for the lactating cows, which is divided up into two farmlets (80 acres vs. 40 acres). These two farmlets are set up as a long term comparison of high (1.5 cow/acre) vs. low (1 cow/acre) stocking rate systems.The remaining 40 acres of pasture are currently devoted to forage variety testing and evaluation of forage crop rotations. Download information about the Farmlet Systems or a copy of the  Kellogg Farm and Pasture Dairy Center Padock Map.

 Cows in field                       ''paddock layout           

The grazing season is typically seven to eight months, running from April through November. The actual length of the grazing season varies from year to year depending on pasture growing conditions and available forage. When cattle are not able to graze, lactating cows are housed in the Robotic Milking Facility while replacement stock are housed in other barns. Winter diets are comprised of forages harvested from the pastures and other crops grown at the Kellogg Farm.

The perennial pastures are primarily one of two distinct cool season grass-legume mixtures. These include a high diversity mix (tall fescue, orchardgrass, perennial ryegrass, alfalfa, red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and white clover) and a low diversity mix (perennial ryegrass and white clover).  Since different forage species have different growth and nutritional characteristics, planting a variety of forage species within the pasture can produce a more consistent forage supply during the grazing season, helping to ensure the health and productivity of both the plants and animals.

Mixed Forage 
                              White Clover and Rye Grass
Complementary Forage Reasearch

           '' White Clover and Rye Gras               ''Complementary Forage Reasearch            ''Mixed Forage

Measuring available pasture enables full utilization of pasture resources, allowing producers to make timely decisions for planning grazing rotations and identify potential feed surpluses or shortages. The available forage biomass is measured weekly to determine how much feed is available for the cows. Two methods of measuring pasture are used at the PDC. These include a C-dax Pasture Meter, which is a GPS referenced, laser measuring device that can be pulled behind an ATV, and the Rising Plate Meter.                                                      

  C-dax with ATV                                                          Rising Plate Meter
''C-dax with ATV                      ''Rising Plate Meter

During the spring, forages grow faster than the cattle are able to harvest them. To manage this excess forage, a portion of the forage is harvested and stored as hay or silage. Harvesting excess forage during periods of excess growth provides feed for cattle during periods of the year when forage growth is slow or stopped. Additionally, timely harvesting maintains the nutritional quality of the forage by keeping the forage species in a vegetative state.

''Harvesting excess forage

The 160 acres of pasture surrounding the Robotic Milking Facility are equipped with a portable K-line irrigation system. This system uses a low irrigation volume to reduce runoff and to facilitate water infiltration into the soil profile. Irrigation decision is based on accurate monitoring of soil moisture profiles using electroconductivity sensors.  Irrigation is initated when the soil moisture in the paddocks reaches less than 20%.

The system consists of a series of heavy duty polyethylene pods spaced at intervals along specially formulated polyethylene tubing. These lines of pods are designed to be moved by an ATV or small tractor along a predetermined route on a daily or as-desired basis.

 ''portable K-line irrigation system                   ''polyethylene pod                                                                    

A well-managed grazing system has several environmental benefits. Along with soil conservation, perennial forages can build and improve soil quality by adding organic matter and increasing the ability to hold water and nutrients with root systems. This also helps reduce rain runoff, increase the water available to plants, and protect water-bodies.  Legume forages such as alfalfa and clovers add nitrogen to the soil, a vital nutrient for living organisms. Because most forages are perennials, they provide long-term ground cover which limits the exposure of soil to wind and water and reduces erosion.

Growing consumer interest in dairy products with organic and grass-fed labels may provide a higher price for milk products from pasture dairies and provide incentives for small and new producers to adopt these practices.  Pasture is a lower cost alternative to feeding stored feeds. Cow longevity is often greater in pasture-based dairies than in confinement dairies. Lower feed costs and greater cow longevity help make pasture-based dairies a profitable option for smaller operations, even though milk production is typically reduced.

    ''  ''cows in field''cows infield                                                                                      








KBS Internship Program provides part-time professional experiences for students in a wide range of disciplines.  Read more about what is being offered in 2018 and how to apply on the  KBS Internships Program page 


Contact Us

W.K. Kellogg Biological Station
Pasture Dairy Center
10461 North 40th Street
Hickory Corners Michigan, 49060

Phone:  269.671.2508  Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Directions and Maps

The Pasture Dairy Center is part of  Michigan State University’s (MSU) W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, and is  between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. We are about 65 miles from main campus. Find more informantion on directions, maps and parking.

Pasture Dairy Center Directions                                   

KBS & Adjacent MSU Lands'' map to dairy from farm office                                                   


















Robotic Milking Facility


The Robotic Milking Facility is the first livestock building in the U.S. to receive Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification; receiving Silver Level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in spring 2010. The LEED certification process encourages practices that promote energy conservation, water use efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, and natural resource stewardship in six general categories during and after construction. These categories include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovations and design.  Achieving LEED certification for the Pasture Dairy Barn allows KBS to demonstrate its own commitment to sustainability and ways that farmers can conserve natural resources and reduce costs. Several practices during its design and construction helped the Robotic Milking Facility receive LEED certification; these practices included:

  1. Energy Conservation - All LEED certified buildings must be at least 15% more energy efficient than building codes dictates.  The dairy barn exceeded this requirement by including practices that enable the facility to be 38% more energy efficient than industry standards of 2009.
  2. Construction Waste Recycling - Over 11 tons of concrete, wood, and metal were recycled or redirected to prevent them from going into a landfill.  Additionally,  concrete waste was used as the base for the parking area and driveway to the barn. recilicling contaners
  3. Long-term Recycling - A recycling plan is required for all LEED certified buildings to reduce the amount of paper, plastic, and other wastes going to landfills.
  4. Use of Regional Materials - Over 34% of construction materials were recovered, harvested, or manufactured within 500 miles of Hickory Corners Michigan.
  5. Protecting the Ozone Layer - The use of refrigerant management systems that do not use Ozone depleting Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) are required for all LEED certified buildings.
  6. Internal Air Quality- Paints, sealants, and adhesives used during construction were selected from a LEED approved list of compounds producing a low level of volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  7. A Green Housekeeping Policy was developed at the dairy to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical contaminants.
  8. Working with LEED Accredited Professionals - To ensure that LEED appropriate design and construction principles were included in the dairy barn the design team (farm staff, other MSU and KBS staff, and building designer) worked closely with LEED Accredited Professionals throughout all phases of the design and construction process.

''Logo for LEED Design and construction practices to achieve LEED certification for the KBS Pasture Dairy Barn were not without additional costs.  LEED certification   is typically reported to increase project costs by 2.5 to 11% (or more), depending on the size of the project, certification level, and types of practices  included. Achievement of LEED certification for the KBS pasture dairy barn increased project costs by approximately 4.5%, but the hope is that the energy efficient design and green building principals at the dairy barn will return that money to the dairy over time through lower operating costs.


2009 Grand opening and ribbon Cutting for pasture-based dairy center at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Research Station at Hickory Corners, Michigan.

Barn Features

''Double chamber waterbed mattresses



       ''surveillance cameras''surveillance camera view









The Robotic Milking Process

The automatic milking system collects detailed data of cows body weight, milk yield, milking time, preparation time, rumination time, activity, heat probability, milk color and milk conductivity.



























Links to Resources

Links to Resources

Prospective Researchers

person collecting dataThe Pasture Dairy Center offers opportunities for research for  by Michigan State University and non-MSU persons. Research should fit into the overall long-term dairy systems research being conducted.. Individuals wanting to conduct research at the Pasture Dairy Center should  Dr. Brook Wilke (Farm Manager) to discuss possible research projects. 

The Pasture Dairy Center is part of the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), which offers a wide variety of agriculture and ecology research opportunities. Visit the Visiting Researcher page on the KBS website for more information.











Past Workshops

Pasture Management for Dairy Grazing - November 2016

Join us for an in depth conversation about measuring pasture for the needs of a dairy cows and utilizing measurement data for pasture allocation and harvest decisions. This event is open to people managing dairy animals with an interest to learn, discuss and exchange ideas about pasture measurement, pasture allocation and harvest decisions. Along with how to incorporate fall, winter and summer annuals into a grazing operation.  

Beginning Grazing School at Three Locations - September 2016

Michigan State University Extension will again offer its very popular Grazing School for livestock, small ruminant and dairy producers at three locations simultaneously across Michigan The two-day school will be offered at:The school is offered to help farmers improve their grazing management knowledge and skill set.

Beginning Grazing School at Three Locations - September 2015

Michigan State University Extension offered  a beginning grazing school for dairy, livestock and small ruminant producers at three locations in Michigan simultaneously via high speed video conferencing in September. There will be a team of experts at each location that will broadcast their expertise to the different sites through a new technology that allows for interactive chat from participants with those experts. This new technology allows for additional expertise to be shared and expanded networking of producers through various online and face-to-face discussions.

 The two-day school was offered at the following locations:

  1. The MSU W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Farm Meeting Room in Hickory Corners, Mich.,
  2. The MSU Lake City Research Center in Lake City, Mich.,
  3. The MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, Mich.

Extending the Grazing - November 2014

The Michigan Biological Station, Kellogg Farm is hosting a field day, Friday, November 7, 2014 from . Farmers, consultants, and educators will exchange ideas and experiences and discuss efficient planning and management strategies.

MSU Grazing School - September 2014

Michigan State University Extension will offer a grazing school for dairy, livestock and
small ruminant producers at the Kellogg Farm on September 9th and 10th. The two-day school
will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. the following day. With the high price of grains
like corn and soybeans more farms are utilizing pasture forage crops to provide a larger portion
of dairy and meat animal diets.

Extending the Grazing Season with Forage Crops Field Day - October 2013

This field day inform about recent Michigan State University research on the agronomic value of different forage crops, varying approaches to extending the grazing season, and discussed opportunities for grazing cover crops.

Tools for Efficient Pasture Productivity on Dairy Farms - July 2013

Blending classroom and field instruction, this workshop covered approaches to forage measurements, budgeting and management for dairy and livestock farmers, helping them to ensure a season-long supply of pasture-based forages even in dry years.

The Automatic Milking Systems on Grazing Farms -  June 2013

The workshop focused on increasing grazeable feed on grazing farms and grazing behavior with an Automatic Milking System.  A keynote presentation by Dr. Cameron Clark, Senior Scientist with the University of Sydney and the FutureDairy Project, Australia on Feed-Base Planning in Pasture-Based AMS Farms.  Along with Dr. Nicolas Lyons, Junior Scientist with the University of Sydney and the FutureDairy Project, Australia (“Cow-Traffic in Pasture-Based AMS Farms”) started the program.  Dr. Santiago Utsumi, Assistant Professor of Animal Science, Michigan State University, shared recent findings on achievable targets for milk production, and forage utilization on grazing farmlets, at the Kellogg Biological Station Farm and Pasture Dairy.  The program included  tour of the KBS Pasture Dairy Center.  

Pasture Dairy Field Day - October 2012

This field day focused on grazing management strategies to increase forage production and utilization in pasture-based livestock systems, with a focus on research at the KBS Pasture Dairy Center. The main goal of the grazing plan at KBS is to increase forage utilization and milk production per cow and per acre beyond the typical limits of pasture-based systems in the region.

Benefits, Challenges and Opportunities for Pasture-Based Dairy Management - August 2012

The workshop focused on the benefits of pasture-based dairy systems and the challenges faced by farmers using these systems in Michigan and the Upper Midwest. A keynote presentation by Laura Paine, Grazing and Organic Agriculture Specialist, WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (Why Graze?) and research presentation by Dr. Diana Stuart of Michigan State University & Dr. Becky Schewe of Mississippi State University (Benefits, Challenges, and Solutions for Pasture-based Dairy Management) kicked off the program. The program included focus group discussions on issues important to pasture-based dairy farmers and a panel discussion with experts in the management of pasture-based dairy systems.

Grassland Birds Pasture Walk - August 2012

This walk focused on the impacts of grazing management on grassland bird populations and presented preliminary results from a 2012 bird census at the KBS Dairy and surrounding Grasslands. The walk was led by Lindsay Hunt (MSU Fisheries & Wildlife Graduate Student) and Kara Haas (KBS Bird Sanctuary). 

Design and Construction of LEED-Certified Dairy and Livestock Facilities - July 2012

The Kellogg Farm Pasture Dairy Barn was the first livestock facility in the nation to receive silver level Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED certification process encourages practices which promote energy conservation, water use efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and natural resources stewardship during the design, construction and occupancy of buildings.

While LEED certification is more common for buildings in urban areas (schools, office buildings, museums and apartments), the principles can be applied to the design and construction of any type of building, including dairy and livestock facilities. Workshop participants learned which aspects of LEED certification are most applicable to livestock facilities and toured the KBS dairy barn to see how LEED principles were applied to this facility.

Benefits, Obstacles and Solutions for Robotic Milking Technology – March 2012

The workshop featured a presentation by Dr. Diana Stuart (Michigan State University Dept. of Sociology) and Dr. Becky Schewe (Mississippi State University Dept. of Sociology) on the benefits and obstacles farmers face during a transition to robotic milking technology. Industry and producer panels followed the opening presentation. The industry panel included representatives from companies currently selling robotic milking equipment in Michigan. The producer panel included dairy farmers from Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan who successfully transitioned to robotic milking. An optional tour of the KBS dairy followed the workshop.

Ongoing Research

The Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) Pasture Dairy Center provides an excellent venue for conducting research on the integration of ecological, social and economic principles important for sustainable agriculture.  Current areas of research at the Pasture Dairy Center include the following;


''Antimicrobial Resistance

A research team led by Dr. Jade Mitchell is investigating the fate and transport of antimicrobial resistance in agricultural lands and scrutinize the effects of certain management practices in mitigating the delivery of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and genes to the environment.

Bovine Leukemia Virus''

The Pasture Dairy Center is participating in a field trial focusing on the reduction of Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) in dairy herds throughout the United States. A team of researchers from Michigan State University are leading this effort, and more information can be found on the BLV USA websiteor read through a recent article published by MSU AgBioResearch.


Climate Change''sky

KBS is using a noninvasive, real-time head chamber system to collect data on animal gas emissions. Information is used to compare enteric methane and carbon dioxide emissions in grazing dairy herds. This research is part of a larger project focusing on the life cycle analysis of dairy cattle and climate change. Continued research will address improving feed efficiency and the carbon footprint associated with pasture dairy farms.   

''Complementary Forages

The forage base at the Pasture Dairy Center consists primarily of perennial mixtures. Yet, these perennial mixtures exhibit variable growth rates throughout the year, leading to forage deficits at critical times, such as mid summer and late fall. Research efforts are targeting annual forages as supplements during these times of forage deficiency, including evaluation of species, varieties, intercropping and doublecropping strategies, and economic evaluation of suitability.


'' round bale in fieldForage Utilization

Forage research looks at the nutritional base that maintains digestive function, improves animal health, and provides nutrients to the cow in a cost-effective manner. This research will help in developing management practices that balance milk production, costs, and long‐term sustainability.


'' cow grazing Pasture and Grazing Systems

Current research focuses on pasture management for forage quality and long-term pasture health, thus ensuring the quality and quantity of forage and dry matter available both now and during the next grazing season. Other research examines what combinations of plant species influence the quality and capacity of pastures.

'' Automatic Milking Systems (AMS)Robotic Milking

Our research examines Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) also known as robotic milking. This includes the investigation of differing dairy structures and the effects of stocking rates on whole system performance, milk production efficiency, and the environmental impacts in pasture-based farms.  In addition, the AMS collects information on milk quantity, quality, and cow health.







Forage clippingResearch at the Pasture Dairy Center takes a systems approach to the study of pasture-based dairy and robotic milking technology.  The Dairy provides a unique facility for conducting both basic and applied research. Additional information about conducting research at the Kellogg Biological Station can be found on the KBS visiting researcher’s web page. Prospective researchers wanting to conduct research at the Pasture Dairy Center should also contact  Dr. Brook Wilke (Farm Manager)











Pasture Dairy

''The Pasture Dairy Center manages 240 acres of pasture devoted to grazing research. The milking herds consist of approximately 130 U.S. Holstein and 25 New Zealand Friesian lactacting cows. Research provides producers with information on rotational grazing of perennial pastures and how to incorporate alternative and complementary forages into the grazing season.  







 The Pasture Dairy Center is a research area first. We currently offer guided tours  for agricultural professionals, farmers. To schedule a tour please fill out the  Group Tour Contact Form Find more information about visiting on the KBS tour page .  We hold  themed open house events throughout the summer. Open house events are the best time for the public to visit the Pasture Dairy Center. people will  get a chance to talk with staff about ongoing research,   pasture management and more. There is no charge to attend the Pasture Dairy Centers open house events. See our upcoming events page for current open house information or visit the KBS events calendar   

Workshops & Field Days''

We host professional development workshops and field days designed to inform agricultural professionals, farmers, and educators about our ongoing research.  Please see our past workshops or upcoming events for current program opportunities.  

Interpretive Area

In the interest of ongoing animal behavior research, visitors are restricted to the robotic milking viewing area.  We ask visitors to not approach cows located in the barn or pasture.  Approaching cows will disrupt ongoing research.  Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. The robotic milking viewing area is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00  p.m. (closing at 5:00 p.m. in the winter).  There is no fee for visiting the Robotic Milking Facility. Please see visitor guidelines below. 

Dairy Visitor Guidelines

To protect research, animal health, and the safety of farm staff and visitors, the dairy has established the following visitor guidelines:


  1. If you have been on a farm located out of the country in the past 14 days, do not enter the farm.
  2. Stay in designated areas.
  3. No pets allowed in dairy facilities.
  4. If you are coming from or going to another farm, plastic shoe covers are available for your use.
  5. Watch for farm equipment and stay away from electric fences.
  6. Please sign in. A visitor book is in the Pasture Dairy Center observation room.
  7. Wash or sanitize your hands before leaving the farm.



Robotic Milking

Robotic milking technology (also referred to as Automatic Milking Systems) was developed in Europe to address labor issues on dairy farms and became available there in 1992. This technology was introduced to the U.S. in 2000 and Michigan in 2009. Robotic milking is a voluntary milking system that allows cows to set their own milking schedule. Because the robot milks the cow, farmers have more flexibility in how they use their time and more time to devote to farm management or other activities. Automatic milking systems collect information on milk quantity and quality and cow health, which helps farmers better manage their herd.

Waiting for milking

















First Dairy BuildingsIn 1928, W.K. Kellogg deeded the Kellogg Farm to Michigan State College, now Michigan State University, with the intention that the College would “… operate this farm under a most modern system of farm management so that it may serve as an object lesson to the people of the region in which it is located.” C.M. McCrary became the first farm manager in 1930. Kellogg and McCrary quickly recognized the importance of forage and pasture in building good quality soil. Twenty-eight purebred Guernsey cows, purchased in 1928, were the foundation of the original dairy herd. The Guernsey herd was recognized as one of the best in the US before being sold in the late 1970’s.

In 1984, the KBS dairy reopened. At this time, the facilities represented ‘state-of-the-art’ dairy production and included a free-stall barn, a double six herringbone milking parlor, and milked approximately 100 registered Holstein cows three times a day.  The herd was also changed to Holsteins to reflect the industry trend of the time. Milk production was about 25,000 pounds per cow per year (9 gallons per day) when this facility closed. 

In 2009, the dairy herd at the Kellogg Farm was moved to the Pasture Dairy Barn. This move began the transition form a conventional dairy system to pasture-based dairy with automatic milking systems (AMS). On most dairy farms cows are milked on a strict schedule two to three times per day with a person manually cleaning each cows udder and attaching teat cups to the cow in preparation for milking; in the AMS dairy the robot does the cleaning and attachment and the cow decides when and how often she is milked each day.





Upcoming Events

Photo Gallery

Faculty and Staff


Workshops and Presentations for Ag Professionals

''Throughout the year we host professional development workshops and outreach programs designed to inform agricultural professionals, farmers and educators about the pasture dairy’s ongoing research. See the events calendar for upcoming workshops and to learn about past events check out our past workshop page.

Public Open Houses

The Dairy holds open house events throughout the summer. Farm staff, student interns, and volunteers greet visitors and answer questions about management and research at the dairy. During open houses, visitors learn how dairy management in our modern dairy facility impacts cow health, milk production, and the environment, as well as how research at the Pasture Dairy Center can impact Michigan dairy farmers. Open houses are free and no per-registration is required to participate.  See our events calendar for dates and times of upcoming open houses.  All ages and backgrounds are welcome.

Interpretive Area

The observation room is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  (Closing at 5 p.m. in the winter.) There is no charge for visiting the Pasture Dairy Center robotic milking viewing area.









In the News


Television / Radio / Video Clips

Agricultural Magazines




The Pasture Dairy Center integrates automatic milking technology and pasture-based management while looking for strategies to reduce our environmental impact without sacrificing production. We partner with Michigan State University Extension MSUE and farmers to provide education on integrating sustainable practices into modern farming across the state.  

One way we have committed to sustainability is through becoming the frist agricultural building in North America to receive the silver award for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED encourages practices that promote energy conservation, water use efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and natural resources stewardship during design, construction and building occupancy.