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SDSU Research Facilities Promote Learning and Service

When entering the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, a large window gives the public a view of what happens in the lab.  Inside, researchers run tests to diagnose animals. They determine if animals have a disease, like influenza or foot and mouth disease.

Russ Daly is a veterinarian with the SDSU Extension service. He says animal owners can send in samples or the animal itself to be diagnosed. Daly says this lab completes approximately 100,000 tests each year.

“What our vision and our purpose is with the state is to help veterinarians primarily and then by extension, help the cattle producers, animal owners, pet owners, horse owners, whatever it is. Figure out what animal diseases may be going on with their herds. More and more it’s become more of a surveillance kind of function where we are looking at more healthy animals,” Daly says.

Daly says he expects the lab to become what’s called a BSL-3 level lab in the next 20 years.  Currently the lab is at a BSL-2 level.  In order to make the status upgrade SDSU needs to provide a separate area in the facility for testing. This would require a closed off area with different air filtration systems along with other standards. This allows testing on animals with diseases such as anthrax. 

In a separate part of the facility is the Animal Resource Wing. This is where animals such as sheep, cattle and sows receive surgery. Diane Baker is the building manager of the Animal Resource Wing. She says procedures like C-sections on sows are completed here. 

“The most pigs we’ve ever had that survived from one sow is one sow had 23 piglets and 19 survived,” Baker says.

Baker says during surgery, the sow is given an epidural. The sow receives surgery on a sterilized bed with a large, clear plastic container around it. There are arm holes in the side for the surgeon. This way, the piglets are born in a germ-free environment. After the piglets are born, they are kept in holding beds separate from the mother in up to groups of four. They are fed formula that is made for puppies, rather than the milk from the mother. The sow is later euthanized or sold for slaughter. The piglets are used for research projects such as testing for e-coli.

Moving down Rotunda Lane, is a third facility that students have access. The Davis Dairy Plant takes raw milk from cows owned by SDSU and processes it. The milk is used to make liquid and dry milks, butter, cheese and ice cream. Vikram Mistry is head of SDSU’s dairy science department. He says students get a rare hands on experience with dairy manufacturing at the facility.  

“From what I understand there are two universities offering dairy science programs in the U.S. as large as the dairy industry is. The other program is in Cal Poly State University. And what I mean as far as two programs is programs that cover dairy production as well as dairy manufacturing,” Mistry says.

Students manufacture the products, which are later sold on campus. The 60 plus varieties of ice cream and other dairy products are sold in various stores through out South Dakota and are delivered by mail.

The dairy plant looks to expand its retail business by adding 6 ounce single-serve ice cream containers.

The facilities employ students with science-related majors to help them earn experience in their future field. The Davis Dairy Plant employs about 15 students of all majors.