Sort & Cull

Case of the Missing Livestock

Five replicas of livestock-themed stone medallions now preside over the circa-1913 University of Illinois Stock Pavilion. Some originals are pictured below. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

URBANA, Ill. (DTN) -- Livestock mosey off occasionally, but the strays aren't typically made of stone, nor do they remain lost for decades. That's exactly the case at the University of Illinois where a search is underway for some terra cotta medallions that once decorated the college's historical stock pavilion.

Some 52 of the clay castings representing 10 different livestock species important to the era adorned the building when it was built in 1913. No one is quite sure why the decorative features were removed during a renovation project in the 1950s.

Then, like a surprise bid to a bowl game, five pieces were returned to the department of animal sciences in 2018. Two more of the original medallions were found in a campus storage room and one surfaced in a garden in the Champaign-Urbana area. Seven of the 10 original animals have been recovered so far.

Three head(s) remain missing -- the Holstein cow, the Jersey cow and the Poland China pig.

University of Illinois animal scientist Dan Shike hopes the equivalent of an all-points bulletin will help bring the three lost medallions home. Listen to more of the story here:….

The hunt for the lost artwork comes at a time the stock pavilion is undergoing extensive renovations thanks to University of Illinois alumni benefactors Rich and Sue Baader. The building serves as a classroom and display area for many agriculture functions.

The original stone heads found so far include Cotswold and Shropshire sheep; Shorthorn and Angus bulls; a Yorkshire pig and a light and heavy horse.

With the support of the John N. Chester Estate Endowment, an Illinois artist was contracted to create molds from the original designs and cast replicas in limestone. So far, five reproductions have been incorporated into an exterior Stock Pavilion wall, and the recovered original pieces remain on display.

Can you help solve the case of the missing cows and pig? If you have information about the medallions, contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement at 217-333-9355 or

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN



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