AnSci Connection - March 2017

Notes from the Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Dr. Jerry Shurson recently returned from a week-long trip to Brazil. During this trip he visited Escola Superior De Agricultura Luiz De Queiroz (ESALQ), or the “School of Agriculture” at the University of Sao Paulo. Dr. Shurson discussed research collaborations taking place with poultry nutritionist Professor Jose Menten and swine nutritionist Professor Urbano Ruiz. The research involves the nutritional evaluation of new corn co-products that will be produced for poultry and swine by a new FS Bioenergia ethanol plant located in Mato Grosso (Lucas do Rio Verde).

Left to right bottom row (Brian Mike, FS Bioenergia; Dr. Jose Menten (ESALQ); Dr. Jerry Shurson). Left to right top row (Pedro Granja - Fiagril; Marianna Duarte - FS Bioenergia; Dr. Urbano Ruiz (ESALQ)

Recently Poultry Extension Team Members presented poultry barn ventilation workshops with funding from Rapid Agricultural Response Funds.  Three business organizations have invited the team to teach barn managers and facility maintenance employees about proper ventilation for over-all health of the flock(s).  Forty-one producers participated in classroom and hands-on learning opportunities, taught by Larry Jacobson, Kevin Janni and Sally Noll and organized by Abby Neu.  The hands-on labs were made possible by using the 4-State Swine Ventilation Training Unit (supported by the pork industry and University Extension in IA, MN, NE and SD).  Learning gains were reported by 100% of the respondents, and the participants saw great value in having the trailer as a teaching tool and for the patience and willingness of the instructors to spend time on questions.


We are hoping to continue to provide more updates about what our livestock teams are working on here at the University. We are very proud of the accomplishments that have been made so far!

Reprinted as posted in ‘Extension Highlights’ at the University of Minnesota.

University of Minnesota Extension and the Carver County Core Dairy Team celebrated 25 years of presenting the Carver County Dairy Expo. This year’s expo took place on Feb. 20 at Central High School in Norwood Young America.

The daylong Carver County Dairy Expo is known for its educational programming, trade show and networking opportunities. Each year—and this 25th year in particular—is a reunion of sorts for the industry to gather, learn and network.

“There is a real feeling of camaraderie,” said Colleen Carlson, Extension educator in Carver and Scott counties.

Carlson spoke with retired Extension educator Vern Oraskovich about the origin of the Dairy Expo. He said, “There was a group of us (Minnesota Dairy Initiative), who met with dairy farmers as a team to help them become better producers; we looked for ways to address herd health, nutrition, production and profitability. We decided we could help more farmers if we had a program where more dairy producers could get information and learn about Extension research. So we hosted our first Carver County Dairy Expo.”

Oraskovich attended the Expo this year along with dairy producers, students and agricultural professionals. The event draws more than 300 people, representing more than 24,000 cows and 23 Minnesota counties.

“We are fortunate,” says Bob Nelson, UFC Nutrition Management Consultant, and 25-year member of the Carver County Core Team, “that Vern had the forethought to bring a group of producers and industry people together.”

The Carver County Dairy Expo programs have had an impact. “Milk quality was a topic for many years,” said Jim Kline, Bongards field representative. “In the 1990s milk somatic cell count ran in a higher range. But today with the new guidelines and education, we have lowered the somatic cell count. Low somatic cell count contributes to improved milk quality, increased milk production and the reduction of antibiotic use.”

Over the years, the Carver County Dairy Expo programs introduced production benchmarks, addressing age of breeding heifers, calving intervals and days in milk production for better herd management. Cow comfort has been a focus for the past decade. This year the event will cover dairy industry outlook, management techniques, forage production and dairy technologies. “I feel honored to carry on this tradition,” said Colleen Carlson, Extension educator in Carver and Scott counties, who now leads the event planning.

The Carver County Dairy Expo provides a chance to build relationships in the dairy community, and even to have some fun.

Congratulations to Nathan Zaidman and his advisor Dr. Scott O’Grady for being selected for “Paper of the Year” by AJP-Cell Physiology.

In recent years, AJP-Cell Physiology began an initiative to select a “Paper of the Year” with the goal of recognizing research contributions made by young researchers at the start of their careers.  This year’s selection was made from papers published in 2016 that received high priority ratings from reviewers, and which have a post-graduate or post-doctoral researcher as a single first author. The selection was carried out through several rounds of voting by the Associate Editors. The first author of the winning paper receives a prize and a certificate is given for the paper as a whole.

Nathan’s paper, “Differentiation of human bronchial epithelial cells: roles of hydrocortisone in development of ion transport pathways involved in mucociliary clearance” will be awarded he AJP-Cell Physiology Paper of the Year for 2016. The Associate Editors noted, “The scientific excellence and interest of the study was much appreciated, also that this original research was carried out by a small number of authors.”

The Journal will announce the award formally at the start of the AJP-Cell sponsored Symposium at the EB 2017 conference in Chicago. This Symposium will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday 25th April 2017.

Many congratulations to Nathan, Dr. O’Grady’s laboratory team and Dr. O’Grady!

News and Announcements

This year the 78th Minnesota Nutrition conference will be held September 20-21, 2017. Please plan on attending the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference in its new location at City Center Hotel in Mankato. Registration will be opening soon.

We are pleased to welcome DuPont as the sponsor of the Pre-conference Symposium with a focus on "Nutrition in the Future."

The theme of this year's General Session is "The Future of Animal Production." The program agenda and speakers will be posted on the conference website soon. 

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference is the Upper Midwest's premier forum for communicating leading edge, research-based information to advance nutrition and nutritional management of beef, dairy, equine, poultry and swine. 

Nineteen Animal Science upcoming juniors and seniors were awarded $1000 Animal Science Departmental scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year.  The scholarships were awarded based on scholastic achievement, leadership, and participation in departmental activities.  These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of private donors:


Dr. M. E. Ensminger Scholarship -      Kenwyn Shriner, Brooke Roberts, Paige Netzke


Dr. Wilson G. Pond Scholarship -       Trent Dado, Joseph Ramstad


Dr. Robert Touchberry ScholarshipGabriella Sorg, Austin Schmitt, Haely Leiding


Leonard Wulf ScholarshipEthan Dado, Nicholas Pitlick, Alyssa Groskopf, Scott Dingels


Dr. Robert M. Jordan Scholarship -    Fredrick Mansfield


Dr. Richard Goodrich Scholarship -   Lance Sexton


Dr. Don Otterby Scholarship – Laura Jensen, Kayla Leiding, Elizabeth Theis


Dr. Charles Christians – Brady Bobendrier

Richard Bonde – Mariah Huberty 

Reprinted as posted in ‘West Central Research and Outreach Center’ news. 

University of Minnesota graduate student, Hannah Phillips, was awarded first place in the Organic Research Forum Poster Session at the 2017 Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Conference held in La Crosse, WI, February 23-25, 2017.

 Hannah has been exploring the feasibility of grazing crossbred dairy steers on two types of cover crops (winter wheat and winter rye) and finishing on forages as a method of utilizing a low-input system.  Furthermore, Hannah evaluated the meat and whether or not it would add value to the organic beef market by improving taste and health benefits for consumers.  She concluded that consumers clearly prefer steaks from crossbred steers which grazed winter wheat compared to winter rye.  Her poster highlighted objectives, results and conclusions of this research project, which can be viewed at  This project is supported by USDA-NIFA-OREI.

 Hannah is originally from Covington, Washington, and graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science from Iowa State University.  She is pursuing her Master’s with a focus on organic dairy systems with the U of MN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences under the direction of Brad Heins, Associate Professor at the West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris.

The 2017 Minnesota Dairy Health Conference will be held at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the U of M Saint Paul Campus from April 11-13th, 2017. This conference is held annually, and is meant to serve as a word class education opportunity for people that work within the dairy industry. This conference provides participants with information about the latest information in dairy production, management, health, and food quality.

New this year there will be conference recordings available for those that are not able to attend in person. If you would like more information about the conference schedule you can check out this link to learn more about the timeline of scheduled events.

Early bird registration ends on March 25th, so get yourself registered soon!

Register here:

The 2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference is currently scheduled to be held on June 13-14th, 2017. This conference will be hosted at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. Two different species will be discussed at this event. On June 13th the topic will be highlighting energy efficient systems for Midwest dairies. Then on June 14th they will be discussing energy efficient systems for swine operations.

There are many registration options available that include single day, student pricing, keynote dinner only, and the full conference. This conference will provide the opportunity to network with professionals, listen to keynote speakers, attend renewable energy tours, and so much more! If you would like to know more about the events that are scheduled for the two days, check out the event agenda (

Use this link to register today:

The Meat Lab is looking for student workers for the summer! Duties include: Animal harvest, meat processing, retail sales, and sanitation. Positions begin Monday, May 15th. Work hours are Monday – Friday 8 AM – 5 PM. For more information, please reach out to Tristan McNamara at

Graduate Student Spotlights

Jijo Vazhakkattu Thomas is pursuing a MS degree with an emphasis in poultry microbiological safety. Jijo is working with Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny, and his research is focused around an “alternative to antibiotics” approach to control zoonotic bacteria in poultry. Specifically, he is determining the efficacy of probiotics in preventing Salmonella Heidelberg colonization in turkeys, and is expected to graduate in the spring of 2017.

Jijo was born and brought up in the state of Kerala in South India which is famous for its beautiful backwaters, misty mountains, and spices. Kerala found its place in National Geographic’s 50 places to visit in a life time.  After completing his Bachelor’s in Veterinary Medicine, Jijo pursued higher studies in Animal Biotechnology. He also worked as a veterinarian for two years.

Apart from research Jijo is interested in playing cricket, soccer, volley ball, and is a diehard movie fan. 

Glenda Pereira is currently pursuing a MS degree in Animal Science, working under Dr. Brad Heins and co-advised by Dr. Marcia Endres. Her main research is focused around Precision Dairy Technologies and also working with pasture-based systems.

Glenda’s passion for dairy cattle started at a young age on her family dairy farm on the island of San Miguel, Azores an archipelago in Portugal. She grew up in both the Azores and in Rhode Island, where she received her B.S. in Animal Science. Glenda got the opportunity to come work under Dr. Heins, years after being an undergrad intern at the WCROC where she currently performs her research.

She is seen to the right in her picture fencing dry cow pastures along with her dad in the middle of a typical Azorean winter.


Calendar of Events

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

Pre-register - or 1-800-537-7675.

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

Pre-register – or 1-800-537-7675

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

Pre-register – or 1-800-537-7675

May 17-18, 2017  - 21st Annual Distillers Grains Symposium, Indianapolis, IN

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 13-14, 2017 – WCROC 2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference, Morris, MN

Pre-register here:

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.

September 20-21, 2017 - MN Nutrition Conference, Mankato, MN

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.