AnSci Connection - February 2017

Notes from the Department Head

It’s February, and we are well into the semester. Our department is busy with teaching, research and extension activities, and many of our students have just completed their first round of midterms. Many of these activities are highlighted in this newsletter. We invite you to read about them and get to know our programs and the individuals who make them happen.
This is a busy and exciting time for the department. We are currently conducting searches for two new faculty positions. We are planning interviews for a tenure-track Assistant Professor with research and teaching responsibilities involving the microbiome of food animals Additionally, we are accepting applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist with responsibilities involving beef production systems We believe the individuals filling these positions will significantly increase the teaching, Extension, and research capabilities of our department. We are also planning our first Annual Animal Science Department Showcase which will highlight the accomplishments of our faculty, students and alumni over the past year. We encourage alumni, industry partners and stakeholders to attend this event which will be held on Tuesday, April 11, from 10 AM to 1 PM in the Cargill Building Atrium and Seminar Room on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota..

We feel strongly that Animal Science students as well as other University students need to be better informed about animal welfare and behavior. Consequently, we are very happy that our new teaching assistant professor, Dr. Beth Ventura whose expertise is in the area of animal welfare and behavior, is offering two new courses (Introduction to Animal Behavior; Animal Welfare and Ethics) dealing with these areas this semester. We are excited about these new courses being offered by Dr. Ventura, and we believe they will make a significant contribution to accomplishing our goal of familiarizing students with issues around animal welfare and behavior.

Wishing you all the best.

Dr. William R. Dayton

Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Brad Heins will host an Outwintering Field Day on March 9th, 2017 at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris, MN. As outwintering dairy cattle continues to increase in popularity, this field day showcases part of the dairy research done at the WCROC that evaluates various outwintering options and how they each affect herd health.

The Outwintering Field Day begins at 10:30 am, and is set to conclude at 2 pm. Lunch will be provided at the event. There is no pre-registration required as you register at the door. They suggest dressing appropriately for the weather as you will be outside. 
If you have any questions contact Brad Heins at 320-589-1711 or email for more information.

At the 2017 American Forage and Grassland Council conference in Roanoke, Virginia, Dr. Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist, was awarded the Merit Award.  This award is presented to individuals who have made superior contributions in some phase of forage and grassland agriculture, and have earned recognition among their colleagues for work and productivity in forage or grassland agriculture in research, teaching, Extension, production, or industrial development.

Dr. Shurson will speak at two conferences in March in Southeast Asia – VIV Asia 2017. These conferences are the International Trade Show from Feed to Food for Asia in Bangkok and Asia Grain Transportation Conference in Saigon. The title of his presentation is “A-maiz-ing DDGS” and will focus on research done here at the U of M. It will particularly focus on research collaborators within our department and the many discoveries that led to the development of precision animal nutrition when feeding corn dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) to swine, poultry, and aquaculture.

The amount of DDGS produced by the U.S. ethanol industry has increased to the amount of soybean meal produced, and it is currently being exported to over 30 countries around the world for use as an economical energy and protein source in animal feeds. However, recent anti-dumping and counterveiling duties on U.S. DDGS imports imposed by China (formerly the largest DDGS export market) and the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership have created new challenges for maintaining export demand for this co-product of ethanol production. Dr. Shurson’s role in these conferences is to provide education as part of the U.S. Grains Council's efforts to increase demand for DDGS throughout all of Asia to meet their growing demand for imported feed ingredients and provide food security for the ever increasing population of consumers of meat, milk, and eggs.

We wish Dr. Jerry Shurson the best of luck in his travels, and know that we will represent our department very well!

Lee Johnston and Yuzhi Li were interviewed for an article written by the Star Tribune discussing the work they have done in studying animal welfare and nutrition concerns in swine operations. Take a look at this link to see what Johnston and Li have been working on at our swine research center near Morris, MN.

News and Announcements

Reprinted as posted in ‘MN Milk” news

Lucas Sjostrom, Brooten, Minnesota, has been named executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, and will serve concurrently as director of industry relations for Midwest Dairy, leading the Minnesota Industry Relations team for the organizations.
The previous Minnesota Milk executive director, Bob Lefebvre, and associate director, Eir GarciaSilva, who have 16 and 13 years of service to the organization, respectively, remain with Midwest Dairy.
Lefebvre continues to serve as Midwest Dairy’s senior vice president of industry relations, but Sjostrom’s appointment will allow Lefebvre to focus on leadership for Midwest Dairy’s work across a 10-state region.
GarciaSilva has been promoted to vice president of industry relations for Midwest Dairy, providing strategic program direction and management for the organization’s 11-member industry relations team.
Both Lefebvre, Buffalo, and GarciaSilva, Monticello, will continue to assist in guiding Minnesota Milk, but with limited involvement in day-to-day operations. Shannon Seifert, New Ulm, is also a new member of the team serving Minnesota Milk and Midwest Dairy.
“Bob and Eir have essentially worked over a combined two decades to bring Minnesota Milk to where it is today,” said President Dave Buck. “We will miss their leadership and expertise, but are glad our contractual relationship with Midwest Dairy will allow us to call on them for advice.”
Sjostrom has been employed by Midwest Dairy and Minnesota Milk as government and policy relations program manager since February 2016. He previously worked for Dairy Herd Management and Hoard’s Dairyman magazines, and for Holstein Association USA, and completed his master's and bachelor's degrees in animal science at the University of Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota was well-represented at the 13th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge held February 8-10 in Madison, WI. The event was hosted by University of Wisconsin-Madison with 112 student participants from 18 collegiate dairy programs in Midwestern states. Participants from the University of Minnesota included CFANS students Laura Jensen, Blaine Knutson, Andrew Krause, Libby Mills, Fred Mansfield, Austin Schmitt, and Gabriella Sorg. Dr. Marcia Endres coached the team.


Dairy Challenge® is an innovative dairy analysis competition developed by industry and university professionals, which exposes students to opportunities in a vibrant dairy industry. Working in four- or five-person, mixed-university teams, students at the Midwest Dairy Challenge assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm and presented recommendations for improvement to a panel of judges and participating farm families. The ultimate goal of providing recommendations is to help improve farm performance and operation profitability.

Team members presented recommendations and then fielded questions from a panel of judges. These official judges included dairy producers and industry experts in dairy finances, reproduction/genetics, nutrition and animal health. Presentations were evaluated for accuracy of analysis and recommendations, with awards presented at the end of the day.


Laura was a member of the team that placed second on Farm 1, Baerwolf Dairies. Blaine was a member of the team that placed first on Farm 2, Ballweg Dairies. Fred was a member of the team that placed second on Farm 3, Manthe Farms. All seven students gave a very professional presentation as individuals on their respective teams. Congratulations! Our students described the contest as an excellent learning and networking opportunity. We thank all the industry sponsors that make the Dairy Challenge possible.

Front row, left to right: Libby Mills, Coach Marcia Endres, Gabriella Sorg and Laura Jensen Back row, left to right: Fred Mansfield, Blaine Knutson, Austin Schmitt, and Andrew Krause.

Forty-four of the 108 members of the Gopher Dairy Club traveled to the annual meeting of the Midwest regional association of dairy science clubs on February 3 & 4 in Brookings, SD.  The gathering was hosted by the South Dakota State Dairy Club.

The club and its members placed highly in competitions:

- 1st Yearbook (The Topline)

- 1st Electronic Yearbook (The Topline)

- 1st Website

- 1st team in Dairy Products Judging

- 1st (Annie Culbertson) and 2nd (Madelin Lindahl) individuals in Dairy Products Judging   


- Gabriella Sorg was elected to serve as the 2017-18 President

- University of Minnesota was chosen to host the 2018 meeting

Bonnie Rae, Administrative Specialist, serves as the webmaster for the club's website (ranked 1st again this year), and student members of the club are very appreciative of her ongoing contributions to the success of the club.  Bonnie was the 2012 recipient of the club's Distinguished Service Award.   Club adviser, Dr. Les Hansen, accompanied the 44 students for the weekend trip.


Group photo of the 44 members of the Gopher Dairy Club.

GDC members recognized during regional meeting of dairy science clubs (l to r): Crystal Siemers-Peterman (Editor, 1st yearbook and 1st electronic yearbook, The Topline), Annie Culbertson (1st individual Dairy Products Judging), Greta Tank (Associate Editor, 1st yearbook and 1st electronic yearbook, The Topline)

January 22-24, 2017, the University of Minnesota Equine Program was at the American Forage and Grassland Council conference in Roanoke, Virginia. Amanda Grev, Michelle DeBoer and Abby Neu presented their research on reduced lignin alfalfa, nitrate concentrations in warm season grasses, and the effect of hay rake type on ash, respectively. Watch for these research results on the horse website ( in 2017.

Our very own Dr. Ryan Cox will be discussing the art of meat cutting at the Beef and Brew event held on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017. Beef and Brew will be held at Bent Brewstillery from 6-8 p.m. A variety of beef specialists will be on hand to answer any beef related questions you may have, ranging from topics such as beef sourcing to how beef is labeled for retail.

This event is full of interactive demonstrations from Bonfire’s culinary chef who is there to help you conquer the kitchen! Not only will you be able to spend the evening with expert meat cutters and culinary legends, but Beef and Brew will have many “beef and beer authorities” as well! These people include; Jena Pape and Mary Brunner, who are both Registered Dietitians at Hy-Vee in Oakdale; Barley Blume, from Bent Brestillery; Nicole Kenney Rambo, from the U of MN Extension Beef Team; Ryan Cox, who is the U of MN Extension Meat Specialist; and Chef Kevin Petroske, the direction of Culinary Bonfire Restaurant Company, LLC.

The event will be educational for all and feature lots of beer, lots of food, and a ton of fun! Each attendee will receive a $5 beer token and a flight of beer, along with all the tasty beef bites made throughout the evening. 

During its February 16 monthly meeting, the Gopher Dairy Club elected new officers, who will provide leadership for the club in 2017-18. The executive team members are:
President -- Laura Jensen, Comstock, WI
Vice President -- Gabriella Sorg, Hastings, MN
Treasurer -- Austin Schmitt, Rice, MN
Secretary -- Ethan Dado, Amery, WI
Reporter -- Megan Schulte, Hammond, WI
Officer at Large -- Fred Mansfield, Kerkhoven, MN

Dr. Les Hansen continues as the adviser for the student organization, which currently has 108 members.

Officers of the Gopher Dairy Club for 2017-18 (l to r): Megan Schulte, Reporter: Fred Mansfield, Officer at Large; Laura Jensen, President; Austin Schmitt, Treasurer; Gabriella Sorg, Vice President; and Ethan Dado, Secretary

The Nelson Scholarship

The Nelson Scholarship is named after Pete Nelson, who served as the Supervisor of Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science from 2007 to 2013 at the University of Minnesota. The Minnesota Association of Meat Processors is offering two $500 scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota in either the Department of Animal Science or the Department of Food Science and Nutrition.

Students that are applying must provide a copy of their U of M transcript (unofficial copies are accepted). Also, applicants must submit an essay of 1,000 words or less discussing their education and academic activity, professional goals, and their future role in the meat and/or food industry. These materials must be received electronically no later than 11:59 pm on March 2nd, 2017.

To apply for this scholarship, email the listed required materials above to Ryan Cox at Students chosen to receive the award will be notified of the award decision no later than March 18th, 2017.

Summer Wrangler Jobs/Internships Available

This summer, Village Creek Bible Camp is looking to hire their summer wrangler team. Each summer they hire 5-6 summer wrangles. Some of these wrangles are responsible for focusing on teaching, while others who focus on maintenance which in turn provides a safe experience for both riders and horses.

This opportunity is targeted for someone who has the desire to someday own their own stable, work full-time teaching riding lessons, or enjoy working outdoors with horses and kids this summer.

Qualifications include being a willing learner, confident rider, and hard worker. Each wrangler would receive a weekly salary, full room and board, and many hands-on growth opportunities.

Feel as though this internship would be a good fit for you? Additional information and directions on how to apply can be found at this link .

Purina Income Optimization Internship

Land O’Lakes is seeking candidates to interview for their open Purina Income Optimization Internship located out of Shoreview, MN. They are looking for candidates that are interested in animal formulation, pricing, analytical thought process, and support go-to market strategies. If you’re a junior looking for an internship for this summer still, this one might just be the one for you!

To learn more about this internship, follow this link provided for more information:

Also, if you have any more specific questions about the internship contact Andrea Wolf at 651-398-8472 or email

The 2017 Minnesota Dairy Health Conference will be held on April 11-13th, 2017 at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul Campus at the University of Minnesota. This conference is a annual, world-class opportunity for people in the dairy industry. Topics covered at this conference include the latest developments in dairy production science, management, health, and food quality within the industry.

Participants can choose between two intriguing full-day preconferences on Tuesday, April 11th, both of which include lunch. These preconferences are “Advances in dairy calf Management – Birth to Weaning”, and “Dairy Goat and Sheep Management”.

If you would like more information on the conference, or would like to register to attend, check out this link  for more information! 

Graduate Student Spotlights

Marta Ferrandis Vila is pursuing a Master's degree in Animal Science under the advisement of Dr. Milena Saqui-Salces. Her research focuses on effects of fiber on the immune system in pigs; specifically to characterize the immune profile induced by different sources of fiber with different chemical and physical characteristics. As a part of her research, Marta is also involved in helping setting an organoid model to use as In Vitro model of normal and pathological gastrointestinal physiology in swine.

Marta grew up in a small town in Valencia, Spain. In 2012 she earned her Doctor in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. After graduation, she decided to participate in the U of M's MAST program, and in March 2013 she moved to Newton, WI, and became a student trainee at a large dairy farm helping with their elite cattle. In 2014 she came to the Twin Cities for the first time and stayed working as lab assistant for a year before becoming a grad student.

Marta enjoys going to the theater, listening to music and baking all sort of “sweet goodies”. She also loves to play videogames and is a big Marvel fan. Additionally, she has a big interest in learning languages as well as traveling.

As for future plans, she will be moving to Germany in June and is considering pursuing a PhD to complete her education.

Blair was born and raised on a farm near Milan, Minnesota raising cattle and hogs. He grew up in a farming community, and it sparked an early interest for him in animal nutrition and production agriculture. During his undergrad at the University of Minnesota Blair continued to pursue his interests through the collegiate livestock judging team and swine research experience. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in spring 2015.

Blair is now pursuing his Master’s degree in swine nutrition and management with Dr. Sam Baidoo. His research is based out of the Southern Research & Outreach Center in Waseca, Minnesota and focuses on feeding ethanol co-products to swine and evaluating growth performance and carcass characteristics. Blair hopes to use the knowledge gained in his master’s program to find a nutrition position within a livestock production company.

In his free time, Blair enjoys deer and pheasant hunting, fishing, and working on the family farm. 


Calendar of Events

March 2, 2017 – Minnesota Dairy Initiatives workshop, Owatonna, MN (Questions can be sent to:     

March 8, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Marshall, MN

More information here.

March 13, 2017 – Minnesota Dairy Initiative Workshop – Grazing Alternatives

March 15, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus Advisor Training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

March 16, 2017 – Winter Dairy Series – Reduced Lignin Alfalfa, Gaylord, MN

March 22, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Morris, MN

More information here.

April 5, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Rice, MN

More information here.

April 11-13, 2017 MN Dairy Health Conference

April 19, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Waseca, MN

More information here.

May 17, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training, Hutchinson, MN

More information here.

May 30-June 1, 2017 32nd ADSA Discover Conference on Food Animal Agriculture: Dairy Replacement Heifers - Transitioning from Weaning through First Lactation, Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca, IL

June 14, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

June 28, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

June 25-28, 2017 - ADSA Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, PA

July 19, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Marshall, MN

More information here.

August 16, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Waseca, MN

More information here.

August 30, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Morris, MN

More information here.

November 8, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Rochester, MN

More information here.

November 15, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus Advisor training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

More information here.