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Morehead University receives USDA grant for swine facilities

Morehead State’s Department of Agricultural Sciences is the recipient of a grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to upgrade equipment in its swine production facility at the Derrickson Agricultural Complex, according to a press release from the university. 

“I believe that these upgrades can be a game changer for helping our students be more prepared for their careers after graduation,” said Flint Harrelson, associate professor of animal science. “I also believe that these upgrades will be valuable assets to the bountiful resources at the Derrickson Agricultural Complex.”

The nearly $47,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will pay for updated equipment used for animal husbandry, specifically sow nutritional management and the care of sick piglets. The swine facility was built in the early 2000s, and the equipment is outdated.

“Over the past 20+ years, the industry has seen many advances in technology and housing including the almost universal adoption of pen gestation systems with electronic sow feeders. These technologies also have allowed for more efficient and sustainable management of labor, farms, and animals,” Harrelson said. “These upgrades will make our students more marketable upon graduation as they will have not only the animal husbandry skills to care for the livestock but also the technical experience of working with equipment found in modern swine facilities. These upgrades can also expand the opportunities for industry applied research which can aid students in gaining valuable life skills along with building more industry connections and options for graduates.”

Shannon Harr, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs’ director, said MSU’s location makes it more important for the facilities to be upgraded.

“MSU has taught students hands-on swine production for over 40 years and has had great success with placing students in the industry,” said Harr. “Our proximity to swine operations in North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana have made for tremendous student opportunities with the swine industry.”

The 350-acre Derrickson Agricultural Complex, also known as the University Farm, houses 48 students and is home to the Equine Health Education Center. The facility also includes Richardson Arena, which seats 2,000 for regional horse shows, and indoor and outdoor riding facilities. The farm also houses a small animal hospital complete with kennels, along with sheep, cattle, and swine operations. The farm has a greenhouse and horticulture operations, which provide plants, fruits, and vegetables for the campus community and the public.

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