Although animal husbandry research and teaching became a part of Cornell University's activities soon after the university was founded, it was not until 1903 that the Department of Animal Husbandry was established, with Professor Henry Hiram Wing as its first department head. Until 1907 (when a separate Poultry Husbandry department was established) poultry husbandry was a part of the Animal Husbandry Department. There followed a long period in which Professor Wing and his successors obtained state and other support to provide facilities and hire additional faculty. They were successful in developing a department which, by the middle of the century, had achieved an outstanding reputation both nationally and internationally. Since Wing's time there have been 11 department heads/chairmen (see below). Facilities have come and gone and locations have changed in that interval. The department's current home, Frank B. Morrison Hall, was completed in 1961. Essentially all of the livestock facilities now in use have been constructed since that time.

1903-1928 Henry H. Wing
1928-1945 Frank B. Morrison
1945-1963 Kenneth L. Turk
1963-1971 John K. Loosli
1971-1976 J. Thomas Reid
1976-1983 Robert J. Young
1983-1991 J. Murray Elliot
1991-1997 Harold F. (Skip) Hintz
1997-2007 Alan W. Bell
2007-2012 W. Ron Butler
2013-2019 Patricia A. Johnson
2019-present Thomas R. Overton