The Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station began in 1888. As might be expected from the roles of livestock in pioneer life, farm animals figured prominently in the early years of the station. Research herds of Jersey, Angus, Durham and Hereford cattle were established in 1889. In 1898, James Withycombe was recruited to the experiment station; he was director of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1908 to 1914. In that year, he was recruited by the Republican Party to run for Governor. He won the nomination, was elected Governor, and became the first holder of that office to be re-elected. He died in office in 1919. The home of the Department of Animal Sciences, Withycombe Hall, is, of course, named for Gov. James Withycombe.
In the early part of this century, livestock and poultry programs at Oregon Agricultural College developed. The Animal Husbandry Department was established in 1907. James Dryden, a prominent poultry breeder and recently elected member of the Poultry Hall of Fame, was an early Head of the Department of Poultry Science. In the early 1930's, a Division of Animal Industries was established, encompassing programs in animal husbandry, poultry husbandry, dairy husbandry and veterinary medicine. These all subsequently became separate departments. Eventually, the Dairy and Poultry Science departments were merged into the Department of Animal Sciences while the Veterinary Medicine Department became the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dairy Science and Animal Science merged in 1954, while the final merger with Poultry Science occurred in 1991. These mergers were accomplished amicably and efficiently.
In 1947, Dr. Fred McKenzie was appointed head of the Department of Animal Husbandry. Under his direction, a strong research program developed. Subsequent Department Heads included J.C. Miller, J.E. Oldfield, S.L. Davis, L.J. Koong, J. Fitzgerald, and J. Males.
The Department has historically been recognized as a strong Animal Science program. Compared to departments of comparable size, this Department has been well represented in ASAS activities and awards, providing recognition of significant accomplishments. Early research on the effect of selenium on white muscle disease led to OSU becoming internationally recognized for selenium research. The departmental effort in selenium was led by J.E. Oldfield. The contributions of D.C. Church as the author of a widely-used series of books on digestive physiology and nutrition of ruminants are noteworthy. The Department has been notable for programs in specialty animals such as mink and rabbits.
Recently, our faculty have distinguished themselves in work on muscle biology (Dr. Neil Forsberg), ruminant nutrition (Drs. Diane Carroll, Peter Cheeke, Steve Davis, and C.Y. Hu) and reproductive biology (Drs. Fred Stormshak, David Froman, and Fred Menino). The election of Dr. Fred Stormshak as President of the Society for the Study of Reproduction exemplifies the leadership and reputation that our faculty have achieved. Our Department is proud of its past and looks forward to our future.
In 2012, Animal Sciences merged with Rangeland Ecology and Management to form the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences.