MAGNOLIA, Ark. (AP) - Southern Arkansas University is dropping its century-old dairy program, saying it couldn't find enough students who wanted to milk cows twice a day.
"It was to the point where we had to decide whether to reinvest a lot of money into a whole new facility or shut it down," Director of Farm Operations Rusty Hayes said Friday. "One of the main issues was lack of student interest. None of them wanted to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and come back at 4:30 p.m. to milk."
While the last pail of milk was filled last spring, the school will concentrate on other areas at its $8 million Agriculture Center. It will sell the dairy herd and equipment and transfer assets to managers of the school's beef herd. Beef cattle require less processed feed than dairy cattle.
According to the school's finance office, income from the dairy operation fell from $200,000 in the 2007-08 school year to $91,000 in 2011-12. Recent droughts raised costs for feed, particularly corn and alfalfa, while milk prices remained low.
Southern Arkansas was founded as the Third District Agricultural School in 1909. It opened its new Agriculture Center in 2012.