Last week, Cal Poly alumni and students got wind that the Cal Poly dairy had decided to reduce its herd size from 150 cows to 30 cows. Although the letter released was dated Sept. 30, this was the first many had heard of the troubles Cal Poly was having and their intent to reduce the herd.

More than 85 Cal Poly dairy science students rallied together to protest this decision. They gathered outside the Embassy Suites - some dressed in cow costumes - where the Cal Poly dairy science department advisory committee meeting was held on Friday.

Alumni made phone calls and letters to the dean, and campus officials protesting the department’s plan.

Concerned students and alumni are worried that once the herd is reduced to 30 cows it will never regain the size that portrays a realistic California dairy. It could also open up the possibility of completely eliminating the dairy and the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy. Currently students enrolled in the dairy science program represent more than 60,000 cows.

The role Cal Poly’s dairy plays in the California dairy industry is pretty significant. More than 70 percent of the dairy farms in California are either owned or managed by Cal Poly alumni or families of Cal Poly alumni. In addition, Cal Poly is one of only two schools in the U.S. to have a dairy science department and degree program. The Cal Poly dairy is also the only dairy farm in San Luis Obispo County.

An official statement has not been released by Cal Poly that they have reconsidered their decision. But, Dean Dave Wehner did announce at the Cal Poly dairy symposium that in two weeks  he would hold a meeting with concerned alumni to discuss possible solutions.

“We believe that between phone calls from concerned Cal Poly alumni and the students’ efforts we have bought some time,” notes Carolina Evangelo, Cal Poly alumni and co-chair of the Save the Cal Poly Cows campaign.

To join the campaign, alumni can e-mail:

Read “Controversy surrounds Cal Poly’s decision" for more information.