AnSci Connection - May 2018

Notes from the Department Head

Another successful semester is in the books! Grades are submitted and graduations have been celebrated. Graduates are entering the work force and students have started summer internships across Minnesota and the United States. Our faculty, staff and graduate students are working on cutting edge research while preparing for classroom and Extension programming. There are also a number of our undergraduate students studying abroad through three separate courses taught by our faculty, including Sustainable Food Systems of Italy (taught by Dr. Mike White), Belize: Wildlife Medicine and Conservation (taught by Dr. Melissa Palmer), and Shires, Shorthorns and Sheep: Exploring Livestock Systems in England (taught by myself and Dr. Beth Ventura; see photo).  Our department places a priority on study abroad programs that offer global perspectives involving aspects of animal science and cultural diversity.            

We continue to build a strong faculty and staff through the hiring of key positions.  We are interviewing for our administrative director for our department and a farm animal attendant to work at the St. Paul dairy barn.  Our search committees are also finalizing position descriptions for a turkey reproduction physiology faculty member and a data scientist who will work across several disciplines. 

This will be my last column as Interim Head of Animal Science; Dr. Mike Schutz begins as Department Head on June 11.  These last six months have provided me with an opportunity for professional and personal growth and the ability to develop a broader understanding of the department and college.  I’ve enjoyed working more closely with faculty, staff, students and industry partners while strengthening our ability to communicate the great work we do in the Department of Animal Science!                  

Dr. Krishona Martinson

Interim Department Head

Department of Animal Science

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

The Graduate Program in Animal Sciences at the University of Minnesota is seeking a graduate research assistant interested in Beef Production Systems. Research will evaluate cattle backgrounding production management systems and the influence on animal performance and composition, meat quality, and economic outcomes. This position is for a highly motivated and qualified student interested in pursuing a master’s degree. The student will be located on the St. Paul Campus for course work, and research will be conducted at the University of Minnesota’s North Central Research and Outreach Center (NCROC) in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The student will work closely with other students, scientists, and their advising faculty both on the St. Paul Campus and at the NCROC. The student is expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00. Two-year funding is currently available for research assistantships beginning Fall Semester 2018. Research assistantships include a stipend, a full tuition waiver, and medical and dental benefits.

Research will focus on improving long-term animal performance and producer profitability of steers exposed to different backgrounding treatments. Student exposure during this research opportunity includes cattle handling, carcass ultrasound imaging, nutrition analyses, beef packing plant exposure, meat quality analyses, and applied economics. The student will have the chance to present results at a minimum of one scientific conference and develop at least one scientific publication. The student conducting this project will also interact with beef industry audiences.

For more information on research interest, please contact Dr. Megan Webb at the St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota (; (612) 624-6789).

The application process is completed online. For instructions and application information, please visit:

For more information on our department or our graduate program, please visit

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

The University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or handicap.

With the spring semester wrapped up, many of our students hopped a plane and adventured out into the world with one of our study abroad courses. Students in the ‘Shires, Shorthorns and Sheep: Exploring Livestock Systems in England’ course explored the similarities and differences between Minnesota and England animal agriculture, including beef, dairy, sheep, and horse systems. They got to experience the history and culture of England, including the Thames River, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Greenwhich Meridian, and activities in Cambridge and London as well. Interested in learning more about the students’ experiences and what they learned? Check out the course blog:


Farther south students in the ‘Belize: Wildlife Medicine and Conservation’ course students learned about the rich diversity of Belize while working in collaboration with the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic. Students were introduced to the major ecosystems in Belize, the plant and animal organisms inhabiting these areas, and the strategies employed by biologists and environmental resource managers. Students got to apply knowledge they learned through hands on labs and excursions with staff. Below are some photos that students sent in that capture some of the highlights from their trip!

News and Announcements

Another school year has come and gone, and the Department of Animal Science celebrated the year of accomplishments and milestones with its annual end-of-year luau. Special thanks to the Grad Club that planned and coordinated the event.

At the luau the Graduate Studies Committee announced the winners of the ‘Outstanding MS Student’ and ‘Outstanding PhD Student’ awards.

The winner of the ‘Outstanding MS Student’ was Grace Dewi. Grace is advised by Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny and is planning on finishing her degree this summer.

The ‘Outstanding PhD Student’ award went to two individuals this year, Michelle DeBoer and Mickie Trudeau. Michelle is advised by Drs. Krishona Martinson and Marcia Hathaway, and plans on defending her thesis this summer. Mickie is advised by Drs. Pedro Urriola and Jerry Shurson, and just completed her second year of her PhD.

The Grad Club also gave their annual ‘Outstanding Animal Science Faculty’ award at the luau. This year’s honoree was Dr. Krishona Martinson.

Below are photos of the award winners as well as some highlights from the events.

This spring the Department of Animal Science hosted its annual ‘Connecting with U – Animal Science Showcase’ and hosted over 100 people at the event. This was the second year that the department hosted the event which highlights the research and accomplishments of the department’s students, faculty, and alumni. The Cargill Building on the St. Paul Campus was the site of the event.

The event featured 18 posters highlighting the research and labs of the department and 5 posters featuring student organizations and judging teams. A networking hour and lunch was provided with food catered by the Department of Animal Science’s Meat Lab. After lunch, the department held programming to share the highlights and successes of the year and to honor the winners of the ‘Golden Alumni’ awards. The awards were presented to Dr. Bruce Behrends and Dr. Bradley Johnson.

Dr. Bruce Behrends was presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Industry. Bruce received his bachelors and both of his advanced degrees in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota under Dr. Paul Waibel. During his time as a student here, Bruce was known for his expertise in poultry and his strong mentoring abilities with his fellow graduate students. Bruce started his career in 1979 when he was hired by Bob Sparboe of Sparboe farms. Over the course of 25 years, Bruce helped to grow Sparboe farms from 300,000 layer hens to 13 million hens and expanded their AGRI-TECH nutrition service and premix business from 3-4 major customers to 30-40 customers across 25 different states. His impacts reached beyond the poultry industry as well. Bruce developed a system of ‘toll’ feed mills that supported nutrition while saving on feed costs, and the system has been widely adapted by the pork industry in the Midwest. He identified growing consumer trends, and has been instrumental in helping establish cage free and organic operations throughout the state. Bruce’s reach is international as well. He is highly regarded by the Japanese egg industry, and has fostered meaningful and important relationships between Japanese egg producers and Sparboe. Throughout his career Bruce served on and volunteered with a number of organizations to share his expertise and talents including the Minnesota Nutrition Conference, Poultry Science Journal, 4H, Litchfield Library Board, and the Department of Animal Science.

Dr. Bradley Johnson was presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Academia. Brad received both his masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota, Department of Animal Science under Dr. Jay Meiske and Dr. Bill Dayton. After completing his degree, Brad went on to serve as Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University and later as Associate Professor at Kansas State University. He currently serves as a Professor and Gordon W. Davis Regents Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University. Throughout his career, Brad has demonstrated a consistent and strong record as a scientist. Brad is a nationally and internationally recognized authority in animal growth and muscle biology, with notable applied and basic research contributions in the area of growth-enhancing technologies. As a researcher, he has amassed an impressive record that includes 11 book chapters and invited reviews, 87 peer reviewed scientific journal articles and 187 abstracts. Brad has been sought worldwide in issues related to meat and muscle biology, and has worked with the feedlot industry from Indonesia to South Korea to Brazil. Throughout all of this, he has continued to mentor and teach our next generation of scientists and has advised 70 graduate students and post-doctoral scientists, and taught 14 university courses so far in his career.

The day following the showcase, the department hosted seminars given by Drs. Behrends and Johnson for Animal Science faculty, students, and staff to attend. The Golden Alumni winners presented on their time at the Department of Animal Science, their career paths, and the research they are currently conducting. Both seminars were well attended, and provided an opportunity for graduate students and faculty to connect with Drs. Behrends and Johnson.

This past April, Interim Department Head Dr. Krishona Martinson announced at the Animal Science Showcase that the Department of Animal Science will dedicate a conference room in Haecker Hall in honor of Dr. Sally Noll.  The request to honor Dr. Noll was put forth by the Animal Science Diversity and Inclusion Committee to recognize Dr. Noll’s career and achievements as the first female faculty member in the Department of Animal Science. A dedication ceremony will be held in early fall of this year. Details will be included in the September 2018 AnSci Connection.

Earlier this month the U.S. Grains Council published the 4th edition of the DDGS User Handbook entitled “Precision DDGS Nutrition” that was authored by Dr. Jerry Shurson. He has led an active DDGS research program for 20 years, has collaborated extensively with many other DDGS researchers, and has served as a DDGS technical consultant for the U.S. Grains Council in all export market regions around the world since 1998. Drs. Zhikai Zeng and Jae-Cheol Jang, Post-Doctoral Fellows in the Department of Animal Science contributed to the handbook, conducting meta-analyses of published data related to swine and poultry growth performance studies. Mr. Steve Markham, Mr. Sean Broderick and Mr. Sam Erwin, CHS, Inc.,  added valuable contributions as well in the chapter on “Factors that Affect DDGS Pricing and Transportation Logistics”.

The 1st edition was published in 2007 (10 chapters, 142 pages), the second edition was published in 2009 (16 chapters, 234 pages), and the third edition was published in 2012 (35 chapters, 390 pages). Much has changed over the past 5 years in the production and nutrient composition of U.S. corn DDGS. Most notably, over 90 percent of U.S. ethanol plants are now using technology to partially extract some of the corn oil prior to manufacturing reduced-oil DDGS. This has resulted in a significant change in the nutrient proles among DDGS sources and created new questions related to energy and nutrient digestibility and feeding value for all animal species. Furthermore, during the past five years, scientists in the U.S. and around the world have conducted innovative research to enhance the nutritional benefits and overcome the limitations of using DDGS in commercial animal feeding programs.

This 4th edition of the U.S. Grains Council DDGS User’s Handbook provides a detailed, comprehensive summary with in-depth nutritional insights and new discoveries from over 1,500 published scientific papers since 2010. Animal nutritionists and producers around the world have become increasingly focused on designing precision animal feeding programs that improve caloric and nutritional efficiency to produce high-quality, safe and nutritious food products, while improving environmental sustainability in food animal production systems. Corn DDGS is a unique feed ingredient that is not only an excellent, abundant, and economical source of energy, protein, and phosphorus in diets for all animals, but it also contains many “value-added” properties that provide additional animal health and environmental benefits. This DDGS Handbook is intended to be used by anyone and everyone involved in the production, marketing, purchasing, and use of U.S. corn DDGS and co-products in animal feeds.

Animal Science Alumni Greg Harder received the CFANS Alumni Advocacy Award at the CFANS Borealis Night on April 20, 2018.  Greg has been a volunteer assistant livestock judging coach for the department’s livestock judging team for the last 20 years and has promoted the U of MN judging livestock shows throughout the state and nation.  Greg recently took a job as the Director of Aksarben Stock Show and has relocated to Grand Island, Nebraska.

Dr. Tony Seykora was awarded membership in the Borealis Circle by CFANS Alumni Society in recognition of his academic accomplishments and service to the college and Alumni Society.  Tony has been a faculty member in the Animal Science Department for 26 years teaching Introductory Animal Science, Animal Breeding, Animal Handling and other courses as needed.  He currently serves as the undergraduate program coordinator. He served as a directory of the Alumni Society for several years.

Do you want to enhance your livestock evaluation and selection skills? Do you want to become better with oral reasons? If the answered yes to either of these questions, then the 2018 MN 4-H Livestock Judging Camp is for you!

Hosted by the University of Minnesota Livestock Judging Team and Coach Kyle Rozeboom, you will learn the basic fundamentals of livestock judging and evaluation, receive instruction with oral reasons, and become more confident with livestock judging! This training gives youth participants opportunities for personalized help from Coach Rozeboom and the Judging Team.  The camp concludes with an actual judging contest and an awards program.  Top awards are a hanging show box, clipper box, coolers, and much more!  Also included in the camp is great food (we will be grilling for you), an awesome t-shirt for all participants, a camp auction that you will be able to use funny money to bid on livestock items, and more!

APPLICATIONS & $130 FEE DUE JUNE 8TH – Camp begins with registration 11 am Monday, 6/18, and concludes with an awards program, 1 pm Wednesday, 6/20.

Additional information, i.e. daily schedule, housing and meals, driving directions will be sent via email to registered applicants.

Get the camp information and registration details at

Bruce Dokkebakken, General Manager of Minnesota DHIIA (left) congratulates Dr. Les Hansen as the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of Minnesota DHIA.

The Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) celebrated its 50th anniversary during the organizations annual meeting on March 23 in Buffalo, MN.  Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) is the milk recording system for dairy cows and goats in the U.S.  About 50% of the dairy cows in the U.S. and Minnesota have their milk production and other traits recorded with DHI.  The featured speaker for the annual meeting was Dr. Leo Timms from Iowa State University.

During the afternoon business meeting, Dr. Les Hansen, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota was presented with MN DHIA's Distinguished Service Award for his strong support of Minnesota dairy producers, his cutting-edge research on dairy cattle genetics, and his exemplary work with dairy youth for more than 36 years.

Registration is now open for the 79th Minnesota Nutrition Conference taking place at Verizon Center in Mankato, MN, September 19 and 20, 2018.

Pre-registration is $200 through August 12, 2018 ($225 on-site). All students and University of Minnesota faculty and staff as well as University of Minnesota Extension personnel pay only $40 (with discount code).  Request your discount code from Bonnie Rae ( BEFORE registering.

Register at

The Pre-Conference Symposium, “New Innovations for the Use of the Soybean”, sponsored by Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, kicks off on the morning of September 19.

“Challenges Facing Animal Production” is the theme of the General program beginning after lunch on the 19th. Nutriad is sponsoring the keynote speaker, Robert Saik, Professional Agrologist and Certified Agricultural Consultant with Saik Management Group.

The Welcome Reception, on the evening of the 19th, will be sponsored by Alltech. The Welcome Reception is a fun opportunity to mingle and network with industry colleagues and others.

Beginning on the morning of September 20, species sessions (Ruminant, Non-Ruminant and Equine) will run concurrently throughout the day. Check the conference website in the coming weeks for the complete agenda.

There are block of rooms at a special rate for conference attendees at two hotels in within walking distance of Verizon Center (City Center Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn). Look for details online at

Join us for the upper Midwest’s premier livestock nutrition conference!


79th Minnesota Nutrition Conference

September 19-20, 2018

Verizon Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato, MN

Midwest Chapter of American Registry of Professional Animal Scientist (ARPAS) will be offering a Professional Development Conference (PDC) to all animal scientists on September 18, 2018, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at the Verizon Center in Mankato, MN – the afternoon prior to the Minnesota Nutrition Conference.

This conference will assist professionals in agriculture to rise to the top of their field through focus on key development skills beyond those traditionally taught through formal education. Participants will learn the value of continuous professional development as well as fundamental communications skills and their importance in a successful career. Additionally, participants will learn the importance of intent in communication, recognize the importance of building trust in professional relationships, practice effective listening and question asking, and complete a listening profile for a more personalized and interactive training. In short, this fun and engaging conference will train and develop skills implemented across various communication styles and can easily be applied in all areas of life.

Register early! The cost of the conference is $60 for ARPAS members through September 1; $75 for non-members and registrations after September 1 or at the door. Register on the ARPAS website or follow the link from the Minnesota Nutrition Conference website soon to be posted.

Feed producers around the world are adjusting to changes in pork and poultry production practices. New legislation and consumer’s attitudes towards pork and poultry products are driving companies to decrease use of antibiotics in feed. Likewise, feed producers are adjusting to prices and availability of feed ingredients. Research at the University of Minnesota has demonstrated how use of non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) degrading enzymes can increase feed efficiency and other indicators of pig growth and health. On April 17 and 18; Dr. Pedro Urriola was invited by ABVista ( to visit with feed producers in Ontario and Québec and to present results from a research project funded by the National Pork Board.

In addition to sharing results of research conducted at the University of Minnesota, Pedro found the experience to be a valuable opportunity to learn from Canadian feed and pork producers. Pedro shared the following about his experience with ABVista and this takeaways, “First, feed and pork production in Canada is different from the integrated system in the United States. Feed companies have to produce and sell feed to independent pork producers. This means that feed producers are rapidly adopting technologies that decrease feed cost, but have greater difficulty implementing technologies that increase growth or health of pigs at the expense of feed cost. For example, use of feed enzymes that increase feed efficiency (e.g., NSP degrading enzymes) are not as widely adopted because it doesn’t necessarily decrease feed cost. On the other hand, feed producers are quick to apply enzymes that decrease diet cost (e.g., phytase). Finally, it was interesting to learn that marketing of poultry and dairy products is controlled under a supply management system (Quotas). It was interesting to learn about the diversity of the food production and commercialization systems.”

Join the CFANS Alumni Society for the annual year-end BBQ to celebrate another great year at CFANS. Spend time with current and past board members, key alumni volunteers, and CFANS leadership. You are also invited to come early for an update and Q & A with Dean Brian Buhr prior to the BBQ.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

4:00-4:45 p.m. – State of the College, CFANS Dean Brian Buhr

Coffey Hall, Room 120

4:45-6:00 p.m. – CFANS Alumni Society BBQ

St. Paul Student Center, Garden Terrace (outdoor patio along Buford Avenue)*

RSVP by June 1

Questions? Contact Kara Zwieg ( or Mary Buschette (

*For shade or rain cover, you can enjoy the event from the Terrace Room in the St. Paul Student Center. All dietary needs requested on the RSVP form will be available at this event.

Graduate Student Spotlights

Julia Holen is pursuing a M.S. degree in Animal Science, working under Dr. Lee Johnston. Her research is focused within swine nutrition. Specifically, she is determining digestibility of zinc sources in sow gestation and lactation diets and evaluating impacts of dietary zinc in late gestation sow diets on piglet survivability.

Julia grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota on her family’s small farm raising beef cattle, swine, and egg production hens. She completed her bachelor of science degree at the University of Minnesota where she majored in Animal Science with a production livestock emphasis and minored in Agronomy.

Julia expects to complete her master’s in the fall of 2018. In her free time, Julia enjoys being with family, attending livestock shows, and cheering for the Packers.


Congratulations to Katie Cottingim (M.S.) on passing her final exam! Katie was advised by Dr. Sam Baidoo.

Calendar of Events

June 5 - CFANS Alumni Society BBQ, St. Paul, MN