AnSci Connection - January 2019

Notes from the Department Head

As I looked out my window a few days ago, the sun was shining on the new fallen snow and made for a beautiful winter scene. The weather forecast called for bitterly cold temperatures with lows nearing 30 degrees below zero and highs for the next several days well below zero. When I relocated from Indiana this past summer, I had assumed, or perhaps hoped, that climate change would have left such temperatures as a thing of the past, residing only in my childhood memories of the 1960’s and 70’s. But I do vividly recall that, while life goes on in Minnesota during cold snaps, it can be more difficult especially for animals and the people who care for them. Thawing water lines when wind chill temperatures exceed 50 below zero is uncomfortable and downright dangerous. So please continue to plan for the cold this season and how you will take special care of your livestock and companion animals, your employees, and yourselves.

Spring semester is always unique on the university campus. The dark and cold will soon give way to the coming of spring. For some, this semester will bring graduation and the end of their academic careers. For others it will lead to a summer away from studies, a much anticipated internship, or a summer study abroad experience. Spring is also the time we begin to recognize many student accomplishments, and I look forward to celebrating accomplishments with students. Coming up on Sunday, February 17 is the annual Gopher Dairy Club banquet. Ms. Sheila Harsdorf, presently the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer protection will be recognized as the Golden Graduate. I recall Sheila returning to campus as a recent graduate to speak to Dairy Club when I was a student. The Distinguished Service Award will be presented to our very own Dr. Marshall Stern, a Distinguished Professor of Animal Science. This is a very fitting recognition of Dr. Stern’s many contributions. Congratulations Dr. Stern!

Please also add April 3, 2019 to your calendar for our annual Animal Science Showcase. This will be held from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm in the Cargill Building on the St. Paul Campus. We will recognize outstanding alumni of our department and celebrate the successes of our faculty and students.

Hope you all have a safe and wonderful Spring Semester, and keep warm!

Dr. Mike M. Schutz
Department Head
Department of Animal Science

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Back by popular demand, the UMN Extension Horse Team recently updated the "Plants Poisonous or Harmful to Horses".  The poster provides horse owners and professionals a fast and easy way to identify toxic plants sorted by the symptoms they cause. The 24 x 36-inch poster features clear photos of 24 plants commonly found in the Midwest. It is ideal for displaying in barns, offices, tack rooms, rider lounges or trailers. The poster is sold through the UMN Bookstore and costs $15 (plus shipping) and can be ordered here

WASECA, Minn. – The Southern Research & Outreach Center (SROC) is hosting an ROC Research Update on Thursday, February 14 in Waseca. The ROC Research Update will highlight current University of Minnesota agricultural research that is conducted at the Southern, Southwest and West Central Research & Outreach Centers (ROCs). The ROCs are collaborating to share regionally focused research results and recommendations with area crop and livestock producers. Similar programs will be held at the WCROC in Morris on February 12 and the SWROC in Lamberton on February 13. 

Presentations and speakers include:

  • Farm Income Trends: The Good, The Bad, and The Reality – Nathan Hulinsky, Extension Educator, Applied Economics
  • Corn and Soybean Yields as Affected by Soil Test P and Fertilization Philosophy – Jeff Vetsch, Researcher, SROC
  • Corn and Soybean Weed Management – Thomas Hoverstad, Researcher, SROC
  • Expecting the unexpected in insect and disease management. How to hedge your bets. – Bruce Potter, Integrated Pest Management Specialist, SWROC
  • A watershed approach to treating agricultural drainage and surface runoff – Jeff Strock, Professor, SWROC
  • Phosphorus Application to MN Soils – Paulo Pagliari, Assistant Professor, SWROC
  • Benefits and Limitations of Cover Crops Use in Minnesota – Axel Garcia y Garcia, Assistant Professor, SWROC
  •  “Kernza” Intermediate wheatgrass for grazing and as a dual purpose cover crop – Bradley Heins, Associate Professor, WCROC


The ROC Research Update is open to the public. The program begins at 9:30 a.m. and concludes at 3:15 p.m. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. and costs $40 (includes lunch). Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registration is encouraged.  Continuing education units for certified crop advisers have been applied for.  For more information or to register, visit or call 507-752-7372.

The University of Minnesota Southwest, Southern and West Central Research & Outreach Centers, College of Food, Agricultural & Natural Resource Sciences, and Extension sponsor ROC Research Updates.  The research update on Tuesday, February 12 is at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris; Wednesday, February 13 is at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center near Lamberton; and Thursday, February 14 is at the Southern Research & Outreach Center in Waseca.

News and Announcements

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

After serving his country in the United States Marine Corps, Pete Nelson spent 36 years as the owner and operator of Community Market, a federally inspected meat and poultry-processing establishment in Lindstrom, Minnesota. Pete served 3 consecutive three-year terms on the Board of Directors of American Association of Meat Processors. Additionally, Pete served as President, Vice President, and Treasurer of AAMP. Pete also served as President of the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors, and served several terms as a member of the Board of Directors of MAMP. He also served a 3-year term on the National Livestock and Meat Board.

Pete was inducted into the American Cured Meats Hall of Fame after having received over 275 awards for Ham, Bacon and Sausage products in state and national competitions throughout his processing career. Pete received the Friend of Agriculture Award from the MN Farm Bureau and was inducted into the Chisago Lakes Hall of Fame for contributions to youth and leadership. Additionally, Pete was a recipient of the C.W. Ludwig Leadership Award, the Chisago Lakes Area Outstanding Citizen of the Year award, the Guardian of Small Business Award, and twice received the “Friend of the Tax Payer” Award from the Minnesota Tax Payers League. Outside of the meat industry, Pete served in the Minnesota State House of Representatives from 2002-2006. Additionally, Mr. Nelson served as Mayor for the City of Lindstrom, Minnesota. He also served as a Council Member for the City of Lindstrom. Pete was a founding member of the Chisago Lakes Rescue Squad, as well as the Lindstrom Police Reserve.

Prior to his passing in June of 2013, Pete served as the Supervisor of the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science, in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota. Due to his excellent service to the university in the areas of research, teaching and business management, Pete was awarded the Outstanding Service Award from the College of Agriculture. Additionally, due to his tremendous accomplishments in the meat industry, as well as forging a strong partnership between the university and meat processors in the state, Pete received the 2013 Minnesota Association of Meat Processors Honored Member Award.

MAMP is offering two $500 scholarships to students currently enrolled as either an undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Animal Science or the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. Applicants must provide a copy of their University of Minnesota student transcript (unofficial copies also accepted). In addition, applicants must submit an essay (1,000 words or less) discussing their education and academic activity, their professional goals, and their future role in the meat and/or food industry. All application materials must be received by 11:59pm (CST) on March 1, 2019. All application materials must be received electronically by e-mail ( Award recipients will be notified of award decision no later than March 19, 2017, in conjunction with the MAMP Annual Convention. The recipients of the Nelson Scholarship are announced at the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors Annual Convention as part of the awards banquet.

For any further questions, as well as submission of all application materials, please contact: 

Ryan Cox, Ph.D.

Minnesota Association of Meat Processors Technical Advisor

Associate Professor, Extension Meat Specialist


Dr. Jerry Shurson was invited to give two presentations at the recent Feed Additives Americas 2018 Conference in Miami, FL from December 12-13, 2018. Feedinfo News Service sponsored the conference with the goal of educating, more than 200 key decision makers from North America and Latin America feed industry about the current state of knowledge of using various feed additives in animal feeds from industry leading experts.

Jerry's first presentation focused on holistic perspectives of the role of feed additives for improving swine health and performance. He emphasized the critical importance of using integrated animal systems biology approaches (metabolomics, gastrointestinal physiology, microbiome, functional genomics, and nutrition) to understand the complex mechanisms contributing to whole animal growth and health responses from various feed additives.

His second presentation focused on the "Implications of African Swine Fever on the Feed and Pork Industry". The rapid spread of African Swine Fever in China and Eastern Europe has created concern about the risk of transmitting this virus through imported feed ingredients and additives in various countries, especially in the United States. Jerry provided examples of high risk feed ingredients for virus transmission and shared examples of what we have learned about Porcine Epidemic Virus inactivation in feed ingredients using irradiation, thermal processing and feed additives from recent research conducted at the U of M. 

The Integrated Animal Systems Biology team has been working on many exciting things over the last year. We would like to take a moment to highlight all that they have accomplished. Follow this link to read more! 

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations invited Dr. Jerry Shurson to serve on an Expert Panel at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy from January 7-10. 2019. The goal of this meeting was to provide scientific advice to address the issue of unintended presence of residues of approved veterinary drugs in food of animal origin resulting from carry-over of veterinary drugs in feed. This information will be used to evaluate the need for more information or revision of Codex Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding or on the development of specific guidance or capacity development assistance to countries for implementing the code. Jerry was the only U.S. representative on the 19 member international panel. 

In December, Drs. Brad Heins, Krishona Martinson, Chris Faulk and Milena Saqui-Salces successfully completed the 2018 CFANS Leads program.  CFANS Leads is a yearlong program designed to assist faculty in developing leadership skills, capacity, and readiness so they are better positioned to take on academic leadership roles and effectively address challenging issues.  Brad, Krishona, Chris and Milena are pictured with ANSC Department Head Dr. Mike Schutz after completion of the programs capstone project. 

Graduate Student Spotlights

Lekha is a DVM graduate from India. She realized her passion for Physiology and research in basic sciences during her DVM. She was accepted into the University of Minnesota as a master’s student in Animal Science in Spring 2018. A year later, she shifted into the PhD program within the department. Her research involves working with organoids, which are ‘mini guts’, to study the mechanisms of action of minerals like zinc and as a model to learn about Lawsonia, a swine pathogen. She also works on a project which explores the epigenetic modifications in the reproductive tract due to an anti-cancer drug. She currently serves on the Council of Graduate Students as the representative for the department of Animal Science.

Lekha loves travelling and keeping herself updated with the happenings around the world. She enjoys reading, with Carl Sagan being her favorite, and playing tennis during her leisure time.

She plans to continue her career as a researcher in basic sciences and also make enough money to go on a world tour.


Congratulations to Amanda Grev who successfully completed her PhD titled “Reduced Lignin Alfalfa: Yield, Forage Nutritive Value, Stem and Leaf Characteristics, and Forage Digestibility by Horses” on December 19, 2018. Dr. Grev will be starting a faculty position at the University of Maryland in January.  

Congratulations to Jordan Juckel for completing her MS program this past December. Jordan was advised by Dr Ryan Cox.

Congratulations to Joshua Zeltwanger for successfully defending his final defense this past December. Josh was advised by Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo.

Calendar of Events

Jan 30 – PQA+ Certification, Waseca, MN

Feb 5-6  – MN Pork Congress, Minneapolis, MN

Feb 14  – ROC Research Update, Waseca, MN

Feb 20 – PQA+ Certification, Mankato, MN

Mar 6 – PQA+ Certification, Marshall, MN

Mar 19 – PQA+ Certification, Morris, MN

April 3 - Animal Science Showcase, St. Paul, MN