Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences (CAFLS) announced Oct. 12 that it will close its swine research facility at the end of the year.
“After careful consideration, given the condition of the facility, available resources and the current needs of our producers in South Carolina, the Starkey Swine Center will be closed and repurposed for other agricultural research needs,” Clemson Experiment Station director Paula Agudelo said. “The university’s commitment to serve students and producers remains unchanged.”
“Clemson Extension efforts dedicated to swine production in South Carolina will continue,” said Matthew Burns, who leads the extension livestock and forage program. “The decision to close the research facility affords us the flexibility to plan for a strengthening of our programs to serve the South Carolina animal agricultural industry.”
The Clemson department of animal and veterinary sciences will continue to offer students opportunities to observe and participate in swine management, including hands-on experience, CAFLS dean Keith Belli said.
“Our students appreciate the hands-on opportunities that we emphasize in CAFLS. We have a culture that values practical education using experiences with live animals and plants in operational settings. We believe in preparing our students for successful careers in their areas of interest -- not just with solid theoretical foundations but also with experience that comes from getting your hands dirty,” Belli said. “We have no intentions, now or in the future, of changing this culture.”
Charles Rosenkrans, who chairs the Clemson department of animal and veterinary sciences, said, “We are committed to improving student experiences related to swine management and those crucial experiential and production skills valued by the swine industry. These experiences will take place in venues other than the Starkey Center, in other university facilities, at swine farms managed by local producers or at larger swine operations away from campus.”
The Starkey Swine Center, located about five miles from the university’s main campus, includes farrowing houses and nurseries with a capacity of 100 sows.
“The closing of the center is a decision that reflects the need to manage our resources -- especially in terms of research activities and focus areas -- in a way that is sustainable and fiscally responsible,” said Matt Hersom, director of Clemson’s Piedmont Research & Education Center, which houses the swine center and similar facilities for other livestock and crop research on properties near the main campus.
The farm manager and student employees will transfer to support activities in other agricultural research facilities that are part of the Piedmont center. These diverse farms, including the Morgan Poultry Center, the LaMaster Dairy Center, the Musser Fruit Research Farm and the 2,300-acre Simpson Research Farm, are in Pickens, Anderson and Oconee counties, clustered around Clemson’s main campus.
The swine facility will be decommissioned under compliance with state regulations for the lagoon and other regulated installations, the university said. Some of the animals will be sold, and some will be donated to John De La Howe School for Agriculture in McCormick, S.C.