By Estevan Macias, Katie Priest and Elizabeth Teo, May 9, 2023
Driving across campus, many have seen the cows roaming the grasslands around campus. To many, the “Cow Poly Pomona” Cows are a beloved campus staple ambling around in a small herd.
Dating back to 1952, the cattle play a large role in student success across the campus. The “beef unit” was aptly renamed “the cattle unit,” is under the care of the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture and overseen by a small team.
The small but mighty team is led by Beef Unit Manager Efrain Loera. Loera manages the day-to-day for the unit including, but not limited to, feeding, rotating cattle, scheduling classes and managing the budget.
The beef unit is a significant resource for animal science students and Loera explained what the unit offers for students.
“So, it’s just pretty much a big classroom that we have our students come out and actually do some of the hands-on stuff, and get a taste of the cattle industry and grazing,” said Loera.
Loera’s team consists of live-in students who stay on campus around the clock helping to keep the beef unit running.
Javier Ramirez, an agriculture graduate student, has been a live-in student for the past five years. Ramirez starts his day at the beef unit and before he even sets off for class, he has a list of chores dedicated to maintaining and caring for the cattle on campus.
Live-in students fill a variety of positions across the beef unit, Ramirez explains a day as a live-in.
“We do a variety of tasks, whether it be cleaning pens or fixing pens or setting up irrigation with the pastures,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez wants others to knowworking at the beef unit is more than just working with animals.
“A lot up at the cattle unit is definitely a lot more maintenance than working with the animal,” said Ramirez. “We do have our days that are with the animals, whether it be vaccinating or breeding the animals that take all day.”
The cows don’t always stay on campus, and the team also works with the campus show team to bring the animals to a variety of fairs across the state along with other animals from across the campus.
The cattle are a major part of the campus ecosystem, moving around campus to graze across areas of overgrowth while still maintaining a healthy diet. Monika Kamboures, CPP sustainability coordinator, highlighted the impact of an animal’s healthy diet on the environment.
“If livestock in general have good health, then there’s generally lower emissions, so maintaining a healthy animal is important for the emissions,” said Kamboures.
For many on campus, the question has been what happens to the cows as they get older. All of the cattle that are seen around campus were born on campus and will live their entire life on campus without harm.
“(The cattle) are solely here just to live as long as they can here and support the classes,” said Loera.
For students who are not in the agriculture program but still wish to work with the cows, there are a few options.
“Any sort of kind of elective class that you could take through the animal and veterinary science Department, there’s kind of a handful of classes that you could take to get involved with,” said Loera.
The Cow Poly Pomona cows have been on campus for over 70 years and will be for many more, supporting students and grazing across campus.