Yeah, We've Got That.

"Cows are cool"Jaye and countless others






Dairy Cows

Approximately 300 dairy cows live in The Dairy, which is easily visible by first-year students that reside in the Tercero dorms (especially those in the westmost halls of Tercero Phase Three). Due to visitors in recent years petting the babies despite signs and employees asking them not to, followed by sickness and some deaths, the dairy is no longer open to the public. Visitors may stay in the parking lot and look at the cows from that area, or stay on the outside of the pasture. If you go through a gate to get closer to the animals, you have essentially trespassed, and will be asked to leave, or have the cops called on you.

Rarely, cows can be found in dorms.

Cow Milking

Cows are milked regularly.

Milking doesn't happen only at The Dairy. It's also a signature event many times a year on campus. You can milk cows on Picnic Day and during the cow milking contest on the quad during the spring. The School of Veterinary Medicine also hosts cow milking at the California State Fair. These events are often protested by Students Together For Animal Rights and other vegans.

Beef Cattle

More cows can be found west of main campus in two cattle facilities: the Animal Science Feedlot and Animal Science Beef Barn. The Feedlot is located off of Straloch Rd., west of the UC Davis Airport. The Beef Barn is located off of Brooks Rd. just west of Highway 113.

In the winter, the herds are moved to pastures near Vacaville and Folsom. Aside from calves born in these facilities, some come from the herd at the Sierra Foothills Research and Extension Center outside Marysville. Beef cattle research is also performed at the Desert Research and Extension Center in Southern California.

Campus livestock is routinely sent to the Meat Lab for human consumption when it is deemed that their 'usefulness' has ended.


Cow Tent

Cows are central to many research projects on campus. Research from belching (Aggie Article1) to digestion (Fistulated Cow) has led to greater understanding of the cow.

The research doesn't end when the meat lab processes the livestock into beef. Samples and entire processed carcasses are used by many different projects across camps. Fields that use samples from the Meat Lab include Animal Science, Food Science, Reproductive Physiology, Endocrinology, Molecular Biology, Nutrition, Veterinary Medicine, Entomology, and Microbiology. As an example, cattle blood collected during processing is used elsewhere on campus to feed mosquitoes used in research.


Cows (along with freshman) are the main source of the Essence of Davis. However, not all of town smells like cow dung. Usually, the smell is confined to a small area of campus near The Dairy and Tercero. The odor can most often be smelled during the afternoon and evening or when light winds blow from the southwest.

Of course, Davis cows were the first bovines to be given bathrooms... well at least showers. In 2008, a program was started to teach cows to use pressure plate triggered showers to allow them to cool off. In theory this will allow them to produce more milk. No word on if there is a concurrent effort elsewhere to breed giant loofah sponges.


The nearby city of Vacaville is often jokingly referred to as "Cow Town," from a deconstruction of the city's name into vaca (Spanish for cow) and ville (French for town). However, Vacaville is actually named for Juan Manuel Vaca, a Californio who ranched in the area.


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I don't know how it is with the kids these days, but I remember back in my time the big word around the High Schools of America was that UCD students were big-time cow tippers. Well I don't know about that, but hardly any of these cows look tipped over to me.TravisGrathwell

2006-01-22 15:17:49   I once joked to a friend that after petting the cows, you can go to the Meat Lab nearby, and pick up a slab of beef, that was likely a relative of the cute calf you were just petting. —MatthewTom

2006-04-10 13:53:54   I totally rocked the Vacaville trivia. I am just totally awesome. —MatthewKeys

2006-08-16 21:57:03   I heard that the dairy was moved from central campus to here back in the early/mid-1900s when Tercero was at the very edge of the university. Now the administration is considering moving it way, way out Russell Blvd., out towards Winters because of the smell and to make room for more buildings. : ( —DanConstable

2007-01-22 22:28:38   As of the beginning of Winter Quarter 2007, the pasture directly across the street from the Tercero South residence halls has been devoid of any cows. Besides the widely-accepted "slaughterhouse" theory, any idea on where the cows could be? —LeonardMarque

2007-06-13 18:26:02   I remember back in 2001 when I got accepted to Davis and was trying to decide which dorm to live in... I looked at a map and saw "Dairy Cattle Facility" next to Tercero. I chose Segundo that day. What I didn't realize is that most of campus smells like cow but you stop noticing it. My parents point that out every time they come here. I liked going and visiting these guys. —RachelCakes

2007-07-22 22:29:19   I just got back from staying in Tercero South for summer orientation, and there were definitely still cows at the dairy facility! It didn't seem like there were many, but there was definitely a noticeable smell. It wasn't unbearable by any means; it was just a smell. Anyway, just wanted to give an update. —JeremyOgul

2007-07-23 02:31:56   When the draft of the wind combine with certain temperature, the smell amplifies 10 folds. After you get used to it, ur gonna miss it —KaiWan

2007-08-29 14:53:45   I worked and lived at the dairy for a while and can be considered "in the know." Contrary to what is stated above the dairy is NOT open to the public. There are, in fact, signs posted everywhere declaring it to be a biosecure facility and all visitors must get permission from the office. This is for health of the animals, especially the calves that everyone love so much.

The pasture to the south of the dairy is still in use, however the animals are brought in during the winter due to buildup of mud that occurs during the rainy season.

There has been talk of moving the dairy but so far it has just been talk.

There are approximately 100 milking cows, but if you include dry cows, heifers, and calves there are closer to 200 animals total.

The herd manager is Doug Gisi and he should be contacted if you have any interest in doing an internship at the dairy. —Sara2002

  • I'd really like to know if this "dairy not being open to the public" thing is recent. I interned at the dairy and have spent many hours there and have never seen a sign like that. In fact, one of the first things we were told there was that the dairy is completely open for looky loos and the only stipulation for visitors was that you be careful when petting the calves and only pet one so as to not spread diseases, and that the dairy is closed after dark.—Cassie

2007-10-11 01:22:44   The official signs went up a couple years ago, and not just at the dairy but at many of the animal facilities at Davis. The heightened security is due in part to the risk of bioterrorism as well as the threat of foreign animal disease. Visitors have been and will continue to be welcome at the dairy, they just need to contact the manager to gain permission or arrange a tour. This is important not only for animal health but for visitor safety as well. Many times I have had to wrangle well-intentioned freshman who were in pens with the animals and walking in feed lanes while heavy equipment was being used. Although it was pretty humorous the several times I found drunken undergrads trying to tip cows:)

Even with these "rules" a blind eye is still usually turned as long as visitors are behaving themselves. —Sara2002

  • Yeah, I just recently went to visit the dairy the other day and noticed those signs (so did my friend...who lives there), but those babies were definitely not there a year ago. I know for sure I would have seen those. But yeah, it's just common sense to stay out of pens and not mess with them, but I'm sure Doug doesn't really care if people just wander around and take a look.

2008-09-12 21:47:05   It was definitely a unique experience to live in first floor, Tercero South and to be able to spot the cows right across the street whenever I looked out the window... stepping outside the dorm building the day after a rain was NOT fun. —susiekim

2011-02-15 04:14:13   two legs bad, four legs good ; -) —jonpatterns

2011-07-16 13:35:32   Did anything go on for National Cow Appreciation Day? —hankim

2011-07-16 23:27:44   Mooo! I was born in the year of the cow. —SimonFung

2011-11-14 20:38:33   The BEST CHINESE FOOD IN DAVIS!!!! —KCSlater

  • Davis cows are pathetic compared to the cows of L.A. and the Bay Area.

2014-05-30 13:55:41   Cows are cool —JayeQ


1. Zou, Stephanie. UCD research sheds light on dairy air. The California Aggie. 2005-02-01.