Kenneth M. “Max” Autrey
Max Autrey was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, the son of an oil field worker. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Dairy Science from Louisiana State University, Autrey went on to Iowa State University, where he completed the master’s and Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition. It was during those years at Iowa State that Autrey met his future wife, Vera Louise Harrison.
Following brief teaching appointments at Pennsylvania State and the University of Georgia, and service in the U.S. Navy, Autrey came to Auburn as the first Chair of the Department of Dairy Science, a position he held for 23 years. Autrey began strengthening the fledgling curriculum in dairy manufacturing and technology by expanding departmental and faculty involvement in research and outreach activities.
Soon after his arrival, Autrey introduced the first Holstein bull into the AU Bull Test Study. Crossbreeding Holstein with the dairy herd proved to be a valuable step in increasing dairy production, and soon commercial organizations began using the same practice. As Department Chair, he worked to expand the dairy unit facilities from its small on-campus site to more adequate facilities north of Auburn.
Autrey collaborated with faculty as well as with the USDA Animal Diseases Laboratory on campus to address critical issues such as the high mortality rate of calves to disease. As a result of this work, the use of individual calf hutches was established, a practice that became a standard on U.S. dairy farms.
Other areas of cutting-edge research addressed by Autrey included forage management and evaluation, and dairy waste management, an issue that continues to be prominent for today’s dairy producers.
With the centralization of dairy processing in the 1960s, the industry went into a rapid decline. As student enrollment dropped, Autrey repositioned the department’s curriculum and research to correspond to industry changes.
Autrey was a gentleman and a scholar. He was well respected and admired as a person and professor by his former students, the Alabama dairy industry, and his colleagues throughout the country.
Max Autrey is survived by his wife, Vera; two children, Jan Reppert and Kenneth Autrey Jr.; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.