AnSci Connection - January 2018

Notes from the Department Head

Happy New Year and start of the spring semester! January always brings a renewed sense of energy to our department; students are back in classes, faculty and staff are energized after the holiday season, and we look forward to warmer months ahead. We also recently celebrated Dr. Bill Dayton who retired after a wonderful 43 year career in our department, and are looking forward to hiring a new Animal Science Department Head.

During this transition of leadership, I’m proud to serve as Interim Head of the Department, a place I’ve called home for the last 10 years as the Equine Extension Specialist. I grew up in Wisconsin on a dairy farm that is still in operation today. I currently live in Elk River, MN with my husband and two children. Our farm consists of corn and forage production, a herd of Hereford beef cattle, horses, and a flock of laying hens. We direct market our beef to the local community, our children have an egg business (M & M Farm Fresh Eggs), and we show our horses in speed events through the Western Saddle Club Association. Combined with my love for pork products (especially bacon), wool, and a tolerance for our house cat White Lightening, I feel very connected to our Department’s diverse expertise and the state’s animal industry.

As I look towards the next few months, I’m eager for the arrival of our newest faculty member, Megan Webb (Beef Production Systems) in March. I’m also excited to begin new initiatives and strengthen existing ones focused on student recruitment, mentoring junior faculty members and incoming graduate students, increasing communications, building capacity for the growing interest in companion animals, and building stronger relationships with animal industries in Minnesota. I am happy to attend industry functions to talk about our dynamic and diverse department and explore ways we can further connect to improve research, education and Extension efforts focused on animal industries in Minnesota and throughout the world.


Dr. Krishona Martinson
Interim Department Head
Department of Animal Science

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

**As printed in CFANS Connections**

The University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resouce Sciences (CFANS) Dean Brian Buhr announced today that Megan Webb, Ph.D. candidate, has accepted the position of assistant professor and Extension Specialist of the AGREETT Beef Production Systems. She will join CFANS on March 30.

In her role, Webb will conduct research in the Department of Animal Science and will develop collaborative research and Extension programs focused on sustaining productivity growth in the beef industry and engaging with producers and industry to grow this vital part of Minnesota’s economy.
Webb brings an ideal set of skills and passion to this position, with a strong background in cattle management for post-harvest strategies influencing beef quality and consumer marketing rooted in her upbringing on an Angus operation in West Virginia. She earned her B.S. from Texas A&M University, M.S. from Colorado State University, and Ph.D. from South Dakota State University, where she has been a graduate research assistant in meat science.

Her research included the effects of nursing-calf implant timing on growth performance and carcass characteristics; the impact of maternal protein restriction on meat quality and fatty acid profile of progeny; and the influence of growth-promoting technologies on animal performance, production economics, environmental impacts and carcass characteristics of beef; as well as consumer palatability and preference for beef raised from different production systems.

While pursuing her doctorate, Webb collaborated and worked with Extension Specialists to conduct numerous outreach events and facilitated learning to a wide range of audiences. She also served in student advising and industry leadership roles.

In her role she will also serve as a member of the University of Minnesota Beef Team, which has been actively involved in delivering quality programming to beef producers for more than 20 years, establishing a solid reputation for discovering stakeholder learning needs through planning meetings and close interactions with the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and Minnesota Beef Council, and establishing Extension programming based on industry needs. The team has well-established collaborations with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, National Research Conservation Service, Board of Water and Soil Resources, Department of Natural Resources, Board of Animal Health and Farm Business Management Association.

Other research and education collaborations will involve her working with faculty in departments of Animal Science, Agronomy, Biosystems and Biological Engineering, Entomology, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The position advances the visibility and productivity of Minnesota’s beef industry, which generates more than one billion dollars in cash receipts annually and is one of the top three livestock industries in Minnesota, after swine and dairy. There are approximately 15,500 beef producers across the state with beef feedlots concentrated in southwestern Minnesota and cow-calf herds located throughout the state.

As a part of the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer (AGREETT) Grants Program, which was established in 2015 by the Minnesota State Legislature and administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the position is a clear investment in achieving long-term agricultural productivity through improved infrastructure, vision, and accountability.

This year our department is excited to offer two unique study abroad programs to interested students! Read below to learn about each program and the process for applying.

Shires, Shorthorns, and Sheep: Exploring Livestock Systems is offered in England. Dr. Marcia Hathaway and Dr. Krishona Martinson are leading this course. The course will examine the similarities and differences between Minnesota and England animal agriculture, including beef, dairy, sheep, and horse systems. Participants will explore the history and culture of England, including many landmarks such as the Thames River, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Greenwhich Meridian, and many activities in Cambridge and London. During this time they will be visiting production livestock farms, and enjoy 2 BBQs with locally raised meat.

The course is an embedded Spring B term course, which will being the week after spring break, with two weeks abroad! It will be offered every other year in the even years, so if this sounds like something you might be interested in learn more here

Another fantastic opportunity students can take advantage of is the Belize: Wildlife Medicine and Conservation course. Students have the chance to engage with the rich diversity of Belize while working in collaboration with the Belize Wildlife and Referral clinic. Students will be introduced to the major ecosystems, the plan and animal organisms inhabiting the area, and the strategies that are employed by biologists and resource managers. Labs and hands on excursions will be taught by the staff. The program labs including everything from spay and neuter to a behind the scenes tour of the Belize Zoo. Melissa Palmer is the faculty that leads the course.

This course is an embedded course with on-campus class time during the spring semester prior to their departure. If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity to take advantage of it in the future, check out this link!

Both programs have a deadline of February 1st to apply, so get your application in quickly if you are interested! 

News and Announcements

In December the department hosted its annual Winterfest to celebrate the end of the fall term and highlight the accomplishments of our faculty, students, and staff with departmental awards. Listed below are the awards distributed and their winners.

Leadership Award

This award recognizes an individual who carries out the mission of our department while inspiring others to do the same. Dr. Beth Ventura was presented with the Leadership Award this year.

Beth has served as a true leader in our department over the past year, and has become such a strong advocate for our students the student experience in the Department of Animal Science. She has been actively working to find and create more student friendly studying spaces in our building, has been recognized in the college for innovative online teaching strategies, has created the Animal Welfare Judging Team, and is a champion of creating a diverse and inclusive community for our students.

One individual who nominated Beth said, “Beth has done an excellent job mentoring students on a personal level to achieve their goals. She checks in on her students to make sure they are doing well. She is also wiling to mentor and give advice to other students, making her impact a positive on for the department.”

Team Achievement Award

This award is meant to recognize a group, committee, team, or club that has done outstanding work for the department in the past year. The award was presented to the Animal Systems Biology Team this year, which consists of Drs. Gerald Shurson, Chi Chen, Chris Faulk, Milena Saqui-Salces, Pedro Urriola, and Andres Gomez.

This team focuses on collaborations both within our department, our college, and outside of the university as well bringing together different disciplines and people to approach large-scale issues.

One individual shared this about the team, “This team continues to grow and several research partnerships have been developed with Minnesota based industry groups including Cargill, Land O' Lakes/Purina, Zinpro, Qualitech, Biomatrix, CHS, among others. This team has several collective and integrated publications, grants, and ongoing research projects, and is recognized by CFANS as a distinguished program. Milena and Pedro are leading the teams' journal club which is attended regularly by numerous graduate students, and focuses on cross-training all graduate students in various disciplines.”

Positive Impact Award

This award recognizes an individual whose presence and optimistic attitude positively impacts those around them. The recipient of the Positive Impact Award this year was graduate student Yuan-Tai Hung. Yuan-Tai is advised by Drs. Gerald Shurson, Milena Saqui-Salces, and Pedro Urriola.

When describing him his advisors shared, “Yuan-Tai is a model Ph.D. student who constantly seeks opportunities to learn and ALWAYS supports every student and faculty member that he interacts with. Yuan-Tai is a tireless contributor to our program and can always be found working in his office or lab every day including weekends. He always smiles and sets an excellent example for other by saying “No Problem” when asked to do something. He exceeds all expectations and always completes high quality work sooner than expected. His calm and pleasant personality makes everyone feel at ease and is one of many reasons he is an excellent teaching assistant working with undergraduate students. Yuan-Tai is making many positive impacts in our program and the people he works with and is highly deserving of recognition from the Department of Animal Science.”

Above and Beyond Award

This award is meant to recognize an individual who goes above and beyond in their everyday work to help others and further the work of the department. The award was presented this year to staff member Bonnie Rae.

What stood out in the nominations for Bonnie was her can-do attitude, her caring personality, and her cleaning skills. Here are a few things individuals who nominated Bonnie had to say:

 “She always does more than just her job. Just amazing to see how much she cares.”

“Bonnie is the literal glue of our department. She is always scrubbing, repairing, or patching some part of the building, and then in trued Jane-of-all-trades fashion she hops on the computer and updates our websites for us. She’s always willing to help and does so with a smile and her trademark laugh.“

“Bonnie goes beyond the expectations of her position by helping others in a wide variety of areas. She is the go-to person for every odd job (for which no one is responsible) in our department. She works hard to help others in all aspects of their work.”

Congrats to all our winners! Thank you for all of your contributions to our department. 

University of Minnesota faculty and graduate students recently presented research at the 2018 American Forage and Grassland Council's Annual Conference in Louisville, KY.  PhD student Devan Catalano won the Emerging Scientist Poster Competition with her research "Yield, Preference, and Forage Nutritive Value of Winterhardy Perennial Ryegrass under Animal Grazing".  PhD student Michelle DeBoer placed third in the Emerging Scientist Oral Competition with her research "Glucose and Insulin Response of Horses Grazing Alfalfa, Perennial Cool-Season Grasses and Teff Across Seasons".  Graduate students Amanda Grev and Amanda Reiter also presented research on "Quantifying Morphological Development and Forage Nutritive Value of Stem and Leaf Fractions for Reduced Lignin Alfalfa" and "Plasma Amino Acid Concentrations of Horses Grazing Alfalfa, Cool-Season Perennial Grasses, and Teff".  Krishona Martinson, Equine Extension Specialist, helped organize the first equine-focused workshop titled "Taking the Guesswork out of Horse Pasture Management" and during the workshop presented research on "Grazing Alternative Forages in Horse Pastures".    

University faculty Dr. Sally Noll and staff member Jeanine Brannon are looking for undergraduate student workers for this school year and into the summer! They would like to hire 3 to 4 undergraduate student workers for 2 different positions.

They are looking for 2 to 3 students with experience in Animal Science and/or Biology. Poultry Experience is a benefit but not a requirement. Moreover, a strong interest in poultry is helpful.

First Opportunity: Student Lab Technician(s)

Duties would include:  

45% Prepping and running lab analysis on feed and excreta samples

25% Inputting, summarizing and proof reading experimental data. 

25% General care and feeding of turkeys,

5% Cleaning lab equipment and animal facilities 


They would like to hire people that could work 10-15 hours per week during the school year and 10-20 hours, up to 40 hours per week in the summer. Weekend work is required when housing birds on campus. Requirements include: being dependable, motivated, and pays attention to detail.

Second Opportunity: Turkey Research Farm at UMore Park, Rosemount, MN (7-14 hours per weekend)

Basic duties include, but not limited to: 

Basic animal care of turkeys from day one to adult age, 

Feeding specific diets, available to carry up to 50 lbs.

Cleaning and disinfecting waterers

Skimming pens

Record keeping

Other chores as assigned. 


A valid driver’s license is required.

If you are interested, or have any questions, please contact Sally Noll ( or Jeanine Brannon ( 

The 2018 Minnesota Dairy Health Conference is an annual, world-class continuing education opportunity for people within the dairy industry. This event allows participants to learn about the latest developments in dairy production science, health, management, and food quality.

Participants have the opportunity to choose from four exciting half-day preconferences on Wednesday, April 18 that include lunch: using data for decision making in cattle, what’s app doc?, stockmanship training, and field necropsy.

The conference will be held on April 18-19, 2018 in the continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul Campus of the U of MN.

Does this interest you? Click the link here to register for you spot!

The 2018 Gopher Dairy Camp will be held June 10 to 12 at the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota. The Gopher Dairy Camp is open to youth that have completed grades six through nine, but haven’t yet started grade 10. It is hosted by the Gopher Dairy Club at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Minnesota 4-H Dairy Project Committee.

Held Sunday through Tuesday, the camp offers unique workshops which allow attendees to improve their cattle grooming skills and improve their knowledge of the production and processing of dairy products. McKenzie Swanson, a Mcleod County 4-H member, attended Gopher Dairy Camp multiple years and said this about her experience, “I looked forward to going to Gopher Dairy Camp every year, meeting up with friends and getting to learn more about fitting cattle were my favorite parts of camp. I had a positive experience at camp each year and those memories will last a lifetime.”

Registration will open in March of 2018 and attendance is limited to the first 100 youth that register for the event. For further information about Gopher Dairy Camp, please visit

For more information, contact:

Sierra Swanson, Co-Chair

Gopher Dairy Camp


The University of Minnesota Meat Science department is supplying a top of the line educational opportunity for those that are interested in learning about the meats industry! The Meat Science 101 Evening Course is coming back again this year for Spring 2018!

The class will be held on Wednesday, February 7th from 6-9 PM in the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science in Room 125.

Dr. Ryan Cox is the primary instructor, and the course will provide a blend of technical and non-technical lectures, meat processing demonstrations, and inviting speakers that will provide a unique insight on all of the topics.

Registration is $525 per participant, and you can find the registration material at:

Graduate Student Spotlights

Joshua is originally from Northwest Indiana. He first attended Black Hawk College in Illinois before transferring to West Texas A&M University located in Canyon, Texas. Joshua is currently working on his master’s under Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo with a focus on ruminant nutrition. In addition to his research and school work, he also has the opportunity to manage our university’s research feedlot. Joshua anticipates to complete his masters’ in the summer of 2018, and start a PhD later that fall with a focus on cow-calf nutrition and rangeland interactions. 


Congratulation to Jessica Rauba (MS) for passing her final defense. Jessica was advised by Dr. Brad Heins.

Congratulations to Amy Loeschke (PhD) for passing her final defense. Amy was advised by Dr. Les Hansen

Calendar of Events

February 1 - Porkbridge Program (National Pork Board), MN

February 5 - Cow Calf Days – Seminar Tour and Trade Show, Mora, MN

February 6 - Cow Calf Days – Seminar Tour and Trade Show, Starbuck, MN

February 7 - Cow Calf Days – Seminar Tour and Trade Show, Pipestone, MN

February 7 - Sowbridge Program, National Pork Board, MN

February 7 - PQA Plus & TQA, TBD

February 8 - Cow Calf Days – Seminar Tour and Trade Show, Oronoco, MN

February 9 - Cow Calf Days – Seminar Tour and Trade Show, Caledonia, MN

February 15 - UMN Extension Woman in Ag Network Annual Conference, St. Cloud, MN

February 19 - Carver County Dairy Expo, Norwood Young America, MN

February 21 - PQA Plus & TQA, Mankato, MN

March 7 - Sowbridge Program (National Pork Board), MN

March 7 - PQA Plus & TQA, Marshall, MN

March 12 – 13 - North Central Avian Disease Conference, Minneapolis Convention Center, MN

March 13 – 15 - Midwest Poultry Federation Convention, Minneapolis Convention Center, MN

March 20 - PQA Plus & TQA, Morris, MN