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Student worker channels love of animals into Clemson

Mercedes Dubberly // Senior Reporter
Some cows at Lamaster are also studied closely in order for researchers to learn more about their stomachs’ microbiome, which sets them apart from other animals.

Although its vitality to the University cannot be understated, it is easy to miss the sign and dirt road indicating you’ve arrived at Lamaster Dairy Center. But once you make the turn and see the gentle cows grazing and the facilities in the distance, you’ll be reminded that Clemson is an agricultural school.

Taylor Hancock, a senior animal and veterinary science major, is no stranger to life on a farm like Lamaster. Growing up in her hometown of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, she was surrounded by goats and chickens on her parents’ farm. This was where she first developed her love of animals and of Clemson.

She tells me this as we rinse off our boots — standard procedure to remove any outside bacteria — and we walk into the building where some of the equipment is kept. I notice a bulletin board of information and awards to the right and a set of cubbies with halters and gear to the left.

Hancock began working on the farm in the second semester of her sophomore year, stepping up after hearing they were in need of more student workers.

Out on the farm, Hancock has a variety of duties, including monitoring the average of 65 pounds of milk per cow produced a day. The facility features a state-of-the-art computer system that keeps track of the cycle of cows that have recently been milked or need to be. Cows are incentivized to want to be milked with special food.

Lamaster also holds special importance to Clemson as a research farm. Hancock was part of a research trial that studied stress levels in cows by looking at cortisol levels and if a fluctuation correlated with milking frequency. Some cows at Lamaster are also studied closely in order for researchers to learn more about their stomachs’ microbiomes, which sets them apart from other animals.

These research trials help students and staff make strides in the world of animal sciences and make valuable contributions to the field of agriculture.

Other than working on the farm, Hancock fosters her love of animal science through her involvement in the Dairy Science Club, of which she is president. She also competes in Show Team each year, which involves training a cow and traveling to shows with it for an entire season.

After graduating with her degree in animal sciences, Taylor hopes to go to vet school to continue furthering her passion.

“I just really like working with animals,” she said. “I want to feel like I have helped in some way. I’ve learned a lot on the farm, and it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else. It’s one of my favorite places.”

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Mercedes Dubberly, Asst. TimeOut Editor
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