A state prison will soon be home to South Carolina's largest dairy under one roof, as a $7 million expansion quadruples the herd at a prison farm and allows the state to sell millions of gallons of excess milk.
South Carolina's three prison farms save taxpayers more than $600,000 annually, as inmates work to produce all of the milk, eggs and grits - and some vegetables - served to 24,000 prisoners statewide. The new dairy at Wateree River Correctional Institution, set to open in January, could eventually more than double that savings, according to the state Corrections Department.
"Hopefully, it will be the best run dairy in the state," said Bert Dew, the agency's agriculture chief.
Its features will include fans and misters to keep cows cool in the summer, digital sensors of the milk temperature, and computers that monitor when cows are most productive.
The hope is to make farming operations self-sustaining, with profits covering all salaries, Dew said.