The Department of Dairy Science offers the chance to study in a small, internationally recognized department that specializes in offering research, travel and competitive opportunities to our students.  We invite you to bring your interest in animals and let us prepare you for an exciting career in a dynamic industry with a major that has a 100% placement of graduating seniors.

What's New?

Dr. Mike Akers retires after 36 years with the university

Dr. Mike Akers
Dr. Mike Akers

Haley Huffard presenting the 2017 Milky Way dedicated to Dr. Mike Akers.

Haley Huffard presenting the 2017 Milky Way dedicated to Dr. Mike Akers.
Haley Huffard presenting the 2017 Milky Way dedicated to Dr. Mike Akers.

Dr. R. Michael Akers, Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science, Dairy Science Graduate Studies Chair and former Department Head, retired on September 1, 2018 after almost 37 years of service with Virginia Tech. more...


Check out the latest Dairy Judging 101 videos by Dr. Katharine Knowlton and members of the Virginia Tech Judging Team!  Visit YouTube Channel:  Virginia Tech Dairy Cattle Judging for more judging videos!

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Dairy Judging 101: Judging heifers, Part 3 (size)   

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Dairy Judging 101 Practice Class A1

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Dairy Judging 101 Practice Classes: Brown Swiss 4 year olds

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Dairy Judging 101: Placings and notes for J2

Dairy Club at the 2018 ADSA--Student Affilitate Annual Meeting

(L-R) Sarah Thomas, Courtney Henderson, Nicki Hardy, Kendra Phipps Back row: (l-to-r) Lydia Harrison, Sandra Krone, Zack Seekford, Garrett Fleming, Katelyn Allen

Dairy Club at 2018 ADSA.

The Dairy Club team attended the 2018 American Dairy Science Association-Student Affiliate Annual Meeting last week in Knoxville, TN. They participated in sessions,competitions, and held their election for the upcoming year. Congratulations to the team and chapter! Garrett Fleming was re-elected to the First Vice President position and the placings are below. Way to go!

1st place Quiz Bowl
2nd place Dairy Foods paper - Lydia Harrison
2nd place Production paper - Courtney Henderson
3rd place Yearbook
1st place Scrapbook
2nd place Website
2nd place Chapter
Garrett Fleming elected First Vice President

Nicki Hardy named 2018 Dairy Science Outstanding Graduating Senior!

Nicole Hardy (Perkasie, Pennsylvania) is obtaining a degree in Dairy Science with a minor in Animal and Poultry Sciences. Nicole, who has been on the dean's list each semester at Virginia Tech, is the recipient of a variety of scholarships, including an RP-Animal and Poultry Science STEM Scholarship and the Paul M. Reaves Outstanding Senior Scholarship. In addition to her impressive academic achievements, Nicole has held leadership roles as Sigma Alpha sorority president, Virginia Tech Dairy Club showcase sale chair, and Southern American Dairy Science Association student affiliate division officer at large. Through her experiences with Virginia Tech's Dairy Club, Nicole became involved in Micah's Backpack, which increased her awareness of food insecurity and reinforced her commitment to agriculture. Nicole's experiences both inside and outside the classroom also strengthened her passion for dairy cows and nutrition, including her time at the John Lee Pratt Summer Research Institute, her assistant herdsman internship at Janney Holsteins, and her work with the American Dairy Science Association. During her internship at Janney Holsteins, Nicole had the opportunity to diagnose and treat sick calves, administer vaccinations to newborn calves, and halter-break cows. After graduation, Nicole will begin interning with Cargill as a calf research intern. (via CALS website)

2018 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge and Academy

2018 Virginia Tech Dairy Challenge Team: (L to R) Dr. Alex White, Andrew Laffey, Sarah Baynard, Mark Phillips, Lydia Harrison, Nicki Hardy, Erin Saacke, Matthew Smith , Zack Seekford.

2018 Dairy Challenge Team
2018 Virginia Tech Dairy Challenge Team: (L to R) Dr. Alex White, Andrew Laffey, Sarah Baynard, Mark Phillips, Lydia Harrison, Nicki Hardy, Erin Saacke, Matthew Smith , Zack Seekford.

In mid-April, eight students from the Virginia Tech Dairy Science Department (DASC) competed in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge in Visalia, CA.  A total of 34 universities from across North America were represented at the Dairy Challenge.  The Virginia Tech team consisted of Nicole Hardy (Sr, DASC), Lydia Harrison (Sr, DASC), Mark Phillips (Sr, Agribusiness), and Matthew Smith (Sr, DASC), coached by Dr. Gonzalo Ferreira and Dr. Alex White.  The team did an outstanding job of analyzing the case dairy farm and presenting their recommendations to a panel of industry experts.  They placed third in their division.

Andrew Laffey (Sr, DASC) also competed in the Dairy Challenge, albeit on an aggregate team with students from 3 other universities.

Three students participated in the Dairy Challenge Academy this year.   Sarah Baynard (So, DASC/APSC), Erin Saacke (Sr, DASC), and Zach Seekford (Sr, DASC) participated in the Academy where they analyzed another case dairy farm and presented their recommendations to industry representative and other teams in the Academy.

The Dairy Challenge and Academy are excellent educational opportunities for our students.  These competitions help students pull together their science, production, and financial knowledge.  The department would like to thank the donors who provided generous support for the students: Dr. & Mrs. Ron Pearson, The Virginia State Feed Association, Farm Credit of the Virginias, the Farm Credit of the Virginias Knowledge Center, and the Virginia Dairy Foundation.  We would also like to thank the Virginia dairy farmers who allowed us to use their farms as training sessions for our teams:  Mark & Curtis Sowers (Huckleberry Farm), the Johnson Family (Highland Dairy Farm), and the VanderHyde Dairy.

Catherine Parsons, Dairy Science Laboratory Specialist, named Employee of the Month!


Catherine’s nominators praised her work ethic and dedication.

“…Cathy upholds the university motto of Ut prosim… Cathy is known for her encouragement, caring, and helpfulness. Cathy ensures that the lab group’s research is at its highest caliber. Even when people stumble and make mistakes, she views it as a learning opportunity for everyone involved.  Cathy is consistently one of the first to volunteer to help in the “off” hours to ensure graduate students have the help they need to perform and finish tasks. Even during 15°F weather, Cathy is out at the dairy farm with a smile on her face, spreading contagious enthusiasm about the work that is being done and why it is so important.”

As the October Employee of the Month, Catherine received a plaque, gifts from the college, has her photo displayed in the case in Hutcheson Hall, and will be eligible to be considered for the 2017-18 Employee of the Year award.


The Virginia Tech Dairy Judging Team scores at the Big E and Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show!

Eastern States Exposition:
B team - (Katelyn Allen, Emma Currie, Sandra Krone, Nikki Long) 1st team overall, 4th team reasons. Emma 3rd high individual, Sandra 7th high individual)
A team - (Cortney Hostetter, Blake Smith, Kayla Umbel, Hannah Van Dyk) 2nd team overall, 1st team reasons. Cortney 4th high individual and 4th in reasons, Kayla 5th high individual and 2nd in reasons, Hannah 3rd in reasons)

Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show:
A team- 5th overall, 2nd team reasons. Hannah Van Dyk 1st in reasons, 2nd overall. Cortney Hostetter 2nd in reasons, 9th overall. (B team doesn’t compete at Harrisburg.)

Teams A and B at the Big E. A and B team at the Big E front row- Cortney Hostetter, Emma Currie, Kayla Umbel back row-Blake Smith, Katelyn Allen, Sandra Krone, Hannah Van Dyk, Nikki Long
A and B team at the Big E front row - Cortney Hostetter, Emma Currie, Kayla Umbel back row-Blake Smith, Katelyn Allen, Sandra Krone, Hannah Van Dyk, Nikki Long.
Dairy Judging Team posing with a Holstein sculpture in Harrisburg, PA.
A and B teams at Harrisburg, PA - (L-R) Kayla Umbel, Cortney Hostetter, Blake Smith, Hannah Van Dyk, Nikki Long, Emma Currie, Katelyn Allen, and teaching assistant Kathryn Wright. (Not pictured: Sandra Krone.)
Dairy Judging Teams with Dr. Katharine Knowlton, posing with Holstein sculpture.
Dairy Judging Teams with Dr. Katharine Knowlton.
Hannah Van Dyk and Dr. Katharine Knowlton Hannah was 1st in Reasons at the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show.
Hannah Van Dyk and Dr. Katharine Knowlton, coach. Hannah was 1st in Reasons at the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show.

Super Senior Student Spotlight

Mikayla Bailey, a Spring 2017 graduate has been very active in the department and worked at the VT Dairy Farm during her time here.

The spotlights are written by Annemarie Bresson as part of a DASC Public Relations course.

Kari Estes nominated for Outstanding Graduate Student - MS

Kari Estes, a fall 2016 graduate of the Department of Dairy Science, started her research studies as an undergraduate student volunteer. Her contributions to the laboratory resulted in several publications including one from her undergraduate work, another from her work between degrees, and two that she prepared from graduate work. She also has a popular press article drafted which will be submitted to a major trade publication after the scientific work is published. In 2016, Estes also presented her research at the International Symposium on Energy and Protein Metabolism and Nutrition in Poland. She has also been active in Phi Sigma and served as a teaching assistant.

Kari Estes

Dr.  Adam Geiger selected as CALS Outstanding Doctoral Student

Adam Geiger, the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Student Award winner, began his graduate career in the Department of Dairy Science as a Pratt Fellow in 2013.

In addition to his course work and dissertation research, Geiger served in the Graduate Teaching Scholars program and assisted with course development, published articles in two peer-reviewed journals, co-authored articles for two more journals, presented his research domestically and internationally and even got married and had a son.

Through publications in the Dairy Pipeline and Virginia Dairyman as well as a presentation on basic cow nutrition to fourth graders, he contributed to the Extension mission of the department.

Geiger’s publication and scholarship record includes five refereed journal articles published or accepted, five journal articles in review or in preparation, 21 peer reviewed, published abstracts of presentation at professional meetings (most meetings of the American Dairy Science Association), and 19 extension, newsletter, or popular press articles. Interestingly, one of his articles, published in Hoard’s Dairyman was translated into Spanish for wider distribution.

Adam Geiger
Dr. Adam Geiger is the awarded Outstanding Graduate (Ph.D), by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Candidates are nominated from all departments with doctoral programs within the college and face intense competition.

Spotlight on ISC Alumna Carrie Ceh...

ISC alumna Carrie Ceh is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Dairy Science studying rumen development in calves with Dr. Kristy Daniels.  Read the interview here.


Dr. Ben Corl
Interim Department Head

Upcoming Events

October 29-21
Dairy Stockmanship with Dr. Don Hoglund
Blacksburg, VA
Syllabus and prep instructions

Register online

October 26 & 27

Open house for high school and transfer students. 
-Department overview  
-Mock classes      
-Financial aid and scholarship information      
-Tours of campus and the NEW Dairy Science complex  at Kentland Farm
Register online
Print flyer
Email with questions.


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