Arkansas State University was founded in 1909 as an agricultural school known as the Agricultural & Mechanical Training School (A&M). The school offered a 2-year agricultural program in 1918, and a 4-year program which began in 1930. The name was changed to Arkansas State College in 1933, and in 1967 it became known as Arkansas State University (ASU).
Today, ASU’s Farm Complex (located off Aggie Road) consists of 230 acres and employs seven full-time and two part-time workers who spend most of their time caring for the livestock. The beef unit, poultry unit, and farm shop were built in 1970. The dairy barn and feed mill were added in 1986. Our swine complex consists of two swine barns built in 1977, a gestation barn in 1989, a farrowing house in 2001, and a new pig nursery and finishing house in 2005. Throughout the school year, Animal Science students receive hands-on livestock management experience.
Our livestock currently consists of:
- 65 Black Angus cows, 3 bulls, and 45 calves;
- 55 Yorkshire-Hampshire cross sows, 2 Yorkshire boars,and several litters of pigs;
- 65 breeding sheep (raised for wool and meat production).
A Working Farm
In addition to being used as a teaching facility, the farm is also a working entity. Lambs and ewes are sold twice a year at the livestock sale in Memphis. Sows and boars are bred and farrowed on schedule. Because of their high quality, they are sold three or four times a year to the Jimmy Dean Processing Center. The early wean pigs are sold to a feed lot in Missouri and cows are sold at different livestock barns around the state.
The farm cuts and bales an average of 400 round and 2500 square bales yearly. Some of the hay pasture can be irrigated which enables the farm to harvest four to five cuttings per year. Much of the hay is sold which provides income for the farm. Grazing management is emphasized to reduce the amount of hay needed to feed our cattle and horses.
In the fall of 2006, the old beef barn was converted to a free petting zoo. The petting zoo is now open twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. In the spring of 2008, the name was officially changed to the ASU Bill & Alice Nix Petting Zoo.
Plant and Soil Science
The Horticulture program has three acres which include a display garden, small fruits area, and a production greenhouse. The Craighead County Master Gardners help with the maintenance of the site producing blackberries, blueberries, and grapes.
There are six acres leased to the ASU Regional Farmer’s Market which operates from May through October selling locally grown produce.
The land that borders Stadium Boulevard contains research plots of corn, soybeans, milo, and cellulosic bio-fuel crops such as swithgrass, eastern gamagrass, and the giant grass called miscanthus. A herbicide symptomology training program is also conducted annually on the ASU farm. The State Plant Board and consultants from Arkansas and surrounding states come to ASU during June for the training program.
Across from the Equine Center on East Johnson, there is an additional 26 acres used for horses and hay production. Another 50 acres (the Gipson farm located off Highway 351) is used for our fall-calving herd. In Walcott, ASU owns a 520-acre farm that is leased to a local farmer who produces corn, soybeans, and rice.