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Research Stations - Cherry Research Farm

Livestock Research Program

DairyMilking time at the Cherry Research Farm

The dairy operation consists of 160 dairy cattle and 160 head of replacement stock that are housed on 330 acres of pasture. The research at the dairy unit focuses on the benefits of pasture based dairy production by examining economics, cow health and welfare, milk quality and environmental data. Information collected from the herd dates back to 1947 and provides an invaluable comparison to the current herd’s management practices. The relationship with the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine provides hands-on training for veterinary students. The dairy unit provides the necessary resources to conduct important research in the areas of mastitis, Johne’s and other economically important cattle diseases. The dairy unit demonstrates practices that may help local and regional dairy producers capture niche markets, potentially improving the profitability and sustainability of their family farms.


Swine Hoop houses for swine operation

The Cherry Farm Swine Unit is an alternative swine operation that utilizes hoop structures to house swine, rather than a conventional swine building. The buildings are open so that the animals can roam freely without inner pens, except for the gestation barn where crates are used for feeding and artificial insemination purposes. The houses have a concrete floor, and are deep bedded with straw to capture waste. There is no lagoon associated with this type of system, rather the waste is applied via a manure spreader to approved waste fields, or can be utilized in compost. The pigs at Cherry are also unique in that they are an antibiotic free herd used to demonstrate pig production. They receive no antibiotics during their life cycle, unless they become sick, at which point they are removed from the facility and treated. Projects associated with the swine unit include a cross breeding program that examines the growth rate of different cross breeds including Yorkshire, Berkshire, Duroc, and Large Black. An outdoor swine operations project is also in its preliminary stages where pigs from the hoop swine facility will be utilized to determine how many pigs can exist on a certain piece of land without causing harm to the environment.


Senipol cattle are utilized in the crossbreding program

The beef operation encompasses approximately 196 acres of marginal value crop production land. The winter calving, 100 cow herd, is composed of medium-frame, commercial-crossbred cows. The goal of the beef program is to operate a coastal plain cow/calf production system that will maximize profitability while minimizing expenses and environmental impacts. The primary objective is to demonstrate to beef producers and other clientele that beef cattle can be produced efficiently in eastern N.C. using intensively managed production systems. Guidance and priorities for applied research projects to evaluate the system are provided through an advisory committee comprised of faculty, producers and industry personnel.


The introduction of goats to the Cherry Research Farm is just one example of the expanding research done on livestock. Goats have been utilized in the past year at the Small Farm Unit to demonstrate how animals can be raised by integrating them into a rotational cropping system. This allows small farm owners to not only produce vegetables and crops, but to also be able to produce livestock for added income. In recent months, there has been work done on a new facility that encompasses about 22 acres. This acreage is made up primarily of young trees, shrubs and under growth. Studies will be done to gauge the type of woodland forages that the goats prefer, as well as to determine what type of damage goats will inflict on vegetation. A cross-breeding program is also underway, where boer goats have been bred to Kiko bucks.

Student Intern and Goats at the Cherry Research Farm


NCDA&CS Research Stations Division, Teresa Lambert, Director
Mailing Address: 1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1001
Physical Address:2 W. Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3236   FAX: (919) 733-1754

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