Howling Cow ice cream
For many North Carolina State University (NC State) students, their first taste of the school’s rich agricultural history comes from the Howling Cow branded ice cream, which is available all over campus. “We have a close relationship with university dining even though our division is an academic department,” says Carl Hollifield, pilot plant business manager at NC State’s Deptartment of Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Services.
Back when pasteurization was new-fangled
“Our roots go all the way back to 1918, when we pasteurized our first milk on campus in conjunction with a military base off campus,” Hollifield says.
Research and teaching
NC State is a land grant university, meaning extension and outreach to help North Carolina farmers in agriculture and engineering has always been a focus.
A dairy in action
“Throughout the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, we grew our dairy husbandry program—the animal side—and also the food science side at the time of burgeoning pasteurization,” Hollifield says.
A cool brand is born
The dairy works with the NC State Dining team to supply all the milk and ice cream for the dining halls. That’s been going on since the late 1970s, but it was only in 2008 that the Howling Cow brand was born.
A window into modern agriculture
As the dairy program grew, so too did the structures. The dairy farm and a new museum are just outside of NC State’s relatively urban campus in Raleigh. “The museum is a jumping-off point for people to come tour our farm and see what modern dairy farming is like,” Hollifield says. “That’s such a big thing when you’re in a metropolitan area like this.”
Agritourism at the museum
The Randleigh Dairy Heritage museum at the NC State Dairy Farm is an interactive experience where visitors can discover how a typical North Carolina dairy brings milk from cow to table.
Time to graze
The NC State cows eat a variety of different feeds, all of which affect the taste of their milk. “There are three ways to feed dairy animals,” Hollifield says. “One is to let them eat grass; another is to feed them in a barn. The way we do it is a blend of pasture and barn.”