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Although animal husbandry research and teaching became a part of Cornell University's activities soon after the university was founded, it was not until 1903 that the Department of Animal Husbandry was established, with Professor Henry Hiram Wing as its first department head. Until 1907 (when a separate Poultry Husbandry department was established) poultry husbandry was a part of the Animal Husbandry Department. There followed a long period in which Professor Wing and his successors obtained state and other support to provide facilities and hire additional faculty. They were successful in developing a department which, by the middle of the century, had achieved an outstanding reputation both nationally and internationally. Since Wing's time there have been 11 department heads/chairmen (see below). Facilities have come and gone and locations have changed in that interval. The department's current home, Frank B. Morrison Hall, was completed in 1961. Essentially all of the livestock facilities now in use have been constructed since that time.

Year Department Heads/Chairmen
1903-1928 Henry H. Wing
1928-1945 Frank B. Morrison
1945-1963 Kenneth L. Turk
1963-1971 John K. Loosli
1971-1976 J. Thomas Reid
1976-1983 Robert J. Young
1983-1991 J. Murray Elliot
1991-1997 Harold F. (Skip) Hintz
1997-2007 Alan W. Bell
2007-2012 W. Ron Butler
2013-2019 Patricia A. Johnson
2019-present Thomas R. Overton

In 1966 the department, in recognition of the changing nature of its research, teaching and extension activities, changed its name to the Department of Animal Science. In 1991, when the Department of Poultry and Avian Science was disbanded, the poultry programs were once more incorporated into the Animal Science Department.

The major focus of current programs in the department is on food and fiber-producing animals, including dairy cattle, beef cattle. sheep, swine and poultry. Horses are also considered an important part of our mission and other companion animals (e.g. dogs, cats) as well as laboratory species (e.g. rats, mice, hamsters, rabbits) receive some attention. The latter are extensively used in some areas of research. The interests of some of our students and faculty have led to limited activities with exotic species.

Subject matter interests of the faculty have included animal breeding and genetics, nutrition, forage chemistry, rumen microbiology, physiology, endocrinology, growth, lactation, reproduction, behavior, management and meat science. Research runs the gamut from applied studies to basic exploratory animal biology, some of it at the molecular level.

The department's programs are ranked among the best in the country. Many of the faculty are recipients of national or international awards. We have recently expanded our expertise with the appointment of new faculty who will strengthen offerings and opportunities in the more fundamental areas on the cutting edge of developments in cellular and molecular animal biology.

The above information was prepared by Dr. J. M. Elliot, with assistance from many of his colleagues.