Livestock Research

The following is a sampling of research projects relevant to non-dairy livestock producers. If you have a specific interest that is not addressed here, contact Alan Bell, Chair, Department of Animal Science, 607-255-2862,
Click on a title below to navigate to the specific project.

Sheep flocks are relatively economical to establish and take advantage of forage-producing land. They can provide significant income to owners of small farms who take advantage of the many high value markets for lambs in the Northeast.The Cornell Sheep Program evaluates and disseminates information on management, nutrition, health, selection, and marketing strategies for highly productive sheep systems. Purebred Dorset and Finnsheep flocks and a commercial Finnsheep x Dorset flock are managed under the Cornell STAR management system, which emphasizes carefully timed development of maternal ewe flocks. Research topics include: 1) quantifying the amount of fermentable fiber necessary in diets for sheep and other ruminants, 2) ways to control internal parasites, 3) the bonding process between ewes and their newborn lambs to reduce labor and feed associated with lambing management, 4) identifying genotypes that are better at lambing more frequently, and 5) ways to improve vaccinations. Duration: Ongoing 
Project Leader(s): Michael L. Thonney, 607-592-2541,
Project Partners: Dr. Mary C. Smith, Dr. Tatiana Stanton, CCE educators with animal agriculture responsibilities, Empire Sheep Producer’s Association
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Connects small farmers to information about sheep, value-added products, management, production, and marketing
Funding Source(s): Cornell University Experiment Station, Cornell Cooperative Extension, USDA Sheep Improvement Center, and Northeast SARE.
For more information:


Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI) serves the public through research, outreach, training, and technical assistance with a focus on organic residuals. CWMI developed several multi-media resources on topics related to livestock composting, such as a 20-min video, “Natural Rendering: Composting Livestock Mortality & Butcher Waste”. Other topics include Composting Poultry Mortality, Horse Mortality: Carcass Disposal Alternatives, Natural Rendering for Horses, and US Mortality and Butcher Waste Disposal Laws. A map of NY Compost Facilities has been developed and includes compost education and demonstrations sites These are available at: 
Top Impact from Work Thus Far: Farms are composting and better managing livestock mortality.
Duration: Ongoing, started in 1998. 
Project Leader(s): Jean Bonhotal, Cornell Waste Management Institute, 607-255-8444,,
Project Partners: Cornell Farm Services, Pro-Dairy, CCE Associations, NYSDOT, NYSDEC, NRCS, NYSDAM, NE SARE, APHIS, EPA, US Compost Council, Penn State, University of Maine, participating farms and butchers
Funding Source(s): Empire State Development (Environmental Investment Program), Highland Institute, American Association of Meat Processors, the Northern New York Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension, NESARE, NYSDEC, NYSDOT
For more information: Visit CWMI web site  for educational materials, research, and program updates


Research project topics include investigating the use of compost on turf, landscaping, and vineyards and assessing use of manure as bedding in terms of herd health, economics, and nutrient management. The goal of this project is to help farmers better understand how and when to use compost. Among newly developed resources is a computer model that helps to calculate time and cost of production for composting a certain amount of space. 
Top Impact from Work Thus Far: Farms have implemented composting to manage nutrients and produce value-added products for use on and off farm.
Duration: Ongoing 
Project Leader(s): Jean Bonhotal, Cornell Waste Management Institute, 607-255-8444,,
Project Partners: Staehr, Stehman, Cornell University Applied Economics & Management, Vet School, Farm Services, multiple CCE associations, NYSDEC, NYSERDA, NRCS, NYFVI, NYSDAM, APHIS, USEPA, US Compost Council, participating farms
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Waste reduction, value added products, bio-security, and nutrient management
Funding Source(s): NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, Dept. of Economic Development, NYS Farm Viability Inst., Cornell Cooperative Extension
For more information: Visit CWMI web site  for educational materials, research and program updates


This project seeks to provide outreach resources on management practices contributing to: 1) the reduction of inputs during indoor winter lambing or kidding; and 2) success of pasture birth systems. Twenty of 30 farmers that participated in an in-depth record keeping and interview project on  their lambing/kidding seasons identified and adopted birthing management changes. Changes  resulted in a total savings of $60,000 due to reductions in labor and/or feed expenses without reducing reproduction or growth rate. Of 300 meat, goat, and sheep farmers who attend regional workshops on birth management practices, 200 farmers were contacted to track changes in their birthing systems for the following year, and 150  made birth management changes. One hundred farmers reported improved quality of life and monetary savings totaling $75,000 over the next two years.Top Impact from Work Thus Far: The project has developed an online handbook to aid with dissemination of lambing and kidding information and hosted numerous workshops with hands-on activities as education tool. Duration: Ongoing 
Project Leader(s): Tatiana Stanton,
Project Partners: Michael Thonney, Cornell Teaching & Research Sheep Farm, 607-592-2541,
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Reduce labor, expenses, and stress during lambing and kidding
Funding Source(s): SARE, grant # LNE10-304
For more information:


Livestock Extension Resources

Cornell University Department of Animal Sciences
The Department of Animal Science’s mission is to discover and disseminate new knowledge about the biology & management of domestic animals and to apply this knowledge to benefit society. For Animal Science Department information, contact Alan Bell, Chair and Professor at 607-255-2862 or Website:
Cornell Small Farms Program
The Cornell Small Farms Program maintains current resources pertaining to livestock processing, marketing, training and certification, and funding opportunities.  Visit and click on Resources > Livestock.
Cornell University Beef Cattle Management Program
The Beef Cattle Management Program, made up of Cornell Animal Science experts, is a resource for educational materials, workshops, and trainings pertaining to silvopasture, beef quality assurance, marketing, and cattle management. Contact: Mike Baker, Beef Cattle Extension Specialist, Department of Animal Science, 607-255-5923, Website:
Cornell Sheep Program
The Cornell Sheep Program is a source of information about sheep, sheep wool, sheep milk, and their management, production, and marketing in the Northeastern United States. Contact: Mike Thonney, Department of Animal Science, 607-255-2851, Website:
Cornell Goat Management Program
The Cornell Goat Management Program’s mission is to improve the sustainability of goat farms in the Northeastern US by providing educational resources and communication outlets to producers. Contact: Tatiana Stanton, Department of Animal Science, 607-254-6024, Website:

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  1. Avatar of meshack barongo meshack barongo on April 8, 2015 at 4:48 am

    i like the university have learn much from it thanks maybe one day i may join

  2. Avatar of Henry Larry Henry Larry on April 15, 2024 at 5:47 am

    The emphasis on composting and waste management reflects a proactive approach to addressing environmental concerns in livestock farming. These initiatives not only benefit farmers but also contribute to broader sustainability efforts.
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