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?

R. Michael Akers honored with emeritus status

R. Michael Akers, professor and former head of the Department of Dairy Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor Emeritus of Dairy Science by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university.  Read the full article...


2018 Dairy Judging Team at World Dairy Expo...

The Judging Team with their awards, ribbons, and plaques from the 2018 World Dairy Expo. L-to-R: Shelby Iager, Sarah Thomas, Leah Hall, and Katelyn Allen.
Judging Team member, Shelby Iager, won High Individual Overall at the 2018 World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI.
Judging Team member, Shelby Iager, won High Individual Overall at the 2018 World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI.

The 2018 Dairy Judging team placed 2nd Overall and 2nd in Reasons! Senior, Shelby Iager shined as she won high individual overall at World Dairy Expo, which was held October 2-6, 2018 in Madison, WI.

The team had a wonderful day at World Dairy Expo and represented Virgina Tech well!  The team members are Katelyn Allen, Leah Hall, Shelby Iager, and Sarah Thomas. Kayla Umbel is the assistant coach and Dr. Katharine Knowlton is the coach.

Additionally, Shelby won THREE breeds and Katelyn won 11th overall. Katelyn, Shelby and Sarah were all named All- Americans.  (Complete placings coming soon.)


Dr. Mike Akers retires after 36 years with the university

Dr. Mike Akers with the Hokie Bird

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...


The 2018 Judging Team off to a great start in New England!

(L-R) Dr. Katharine Knowlton (Coach), Katelyn Allen, Leah Hall, Sarah Thomas, Shelby Iager, Kayla Umbel (Assistant Coach)
A & B teams L-R- Dr. Katharine Knowlton, Will Boyd, Katelyn Allen, Shelby Iager, Kavita Bushong, Sarah Thomas, Catherine Savage, Leah Hall, Rachel Kanefsky, Kayla Umbel (Assistant Coach)

The season started with both teams competing in the Eastern States contest in Massachusetts. Team A won High Team in Jerseys and in Oral Reasons, and was 4th overall. They were led by Katelyn Allen, 1st overall as well as 1st in Ayrshires, Milking Shorthorns, Jerseys, and Guernseys. Sarah was 2nd in reasons, Shelby 3rd, Katelyn 6th, and Kavita 8th. A team won Jerseys and was high team in oral reasons.  more...  

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.


Dr. Ben Corl
Interim Department Head

Upcoming Defense Seminar
"Strategies for preventing and detecting Gram--specific clinical mastitis in dairy cows"

Nicole Steele, PhD Candidate

Feb. 14, 2019 | 1:00 PM
Life Science Bldg 1, Rm 101


Upcoming Seminar
"Writing Grants and Fellowships"

Guest Speaker:
Nancy Dudek

Feb. 14, 2019 | 4:00 PM  2567 Litton-Reaves Hall  



Upcoming Events

February 13-14, 2019
73rd Annual Virginia State Feed Association
Hotel Roanoke

April 27, 2019
Little All-American

May 20, 2019
Hokie Cow Classic

Upcoming Extension activities...

Get Involved...

2018 Judging Team.

2018 Judging Teams A & B visiting the Bushong family farm, in front of their rock farmhouse with the Bushong's Golden Retriever.