AnSci Connection - November 2017

Notes from the Department Head

It’s November, and we are past mid-semester. Students and faculty are planning for finals and the end of fall semester. During this Thanksgiving season, we in the Department of Animal Science have a great deal for which to be thankful including great undergraduate and graduate students, excellent staff, and dedicated and talented faculty.

We recently concluded interviews for the Beef Production Systems faculty position funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as part of the AGREETT (Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer) Program. This position is 60% extension and focuses on conducting translational research in the area of beef cattle production systems. We interviewed four very qualified candidates, and we will soon be able to announce the individual who will fill this position.

As many of you may know, I am retiring in the relatively near future and the department is currently conducting a search to identify a new department head. Several well qualified candidates have applied and interviews will begin in the near future.
We want to thank all of you for the support you provide for the education, research, and extension efforts of our department. We hope you have a great fall and a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Wishing you all the best!

Dr. William R. Dayton

Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

As printed in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources News

Dr. Krishona Martinson, Extension specialist and Department of Animal Science faculty member, received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Campus-based Faculty. Krishona built the internationally recognized and highly successful equine Extension program. The program provides relevant information to horse owners and professionals while embracing a spirit of entrepreneurialism. She is a leader in using technology to provide information on management and care of horses and also maintains a successful research program securing over $1.2 million in grant dollars for collaborative research between agronomy and equine science. Krishona boldly embraces the Extension mission by pushing herself and her team to use innovative technology to share timely and researched-based information.

Drs. Marcia Hathaway and Krishona Martinson are leading a new study abroad course that focuses on livestock systems in England. This course will examine the similarities and differences between Minnesota and England animal agriculture, including beef, dairy, sheep, and horse systems. Students will explore the history and culture of England, including the Thames River, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Greenwhich Meridian, and activities in Cambridge and London. Students will visit production livestock farms, including dairy, beef, sheep, and horse, and enjoy two BBQs with locally raised meat. There will also be opportunities to visit historical markets, including Smithfiled, Porta Bella and Borough.

The course is an embedded Spring B term course (beginning the week after spring break) with two weeks abroad. It will be offered every other year in the even years.

Interested in learning more? Click here!

Ready to apply? Click here!

News and Announcements

The University of Minnesota’s Animal Welfare Judging Team recently attended The Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC). The contest was held at Iowa State University on November 18-19, 2017.

The newly established University of Minnesota team did not disappoint, as Rielle Perttu won First Place Individual in the live assessment, graduate student division. Congratulations to Rielle!

The AWJAC competition aims to teach students to assess the welfare of animals in multiple settings by using science-based methods and reasoning. Species covered in the 2017 contest included: Farmed Fish, Meat Rabbits, Racing Greyhounds, and Finisher Pigs on a Small Commercial Teaching Farm. The AWJAC competition is open to veterinary, undergraduate, and graduate students.

The University of Minnesota Animal Welfare Judging Team is coached by Dr. Beth Ventura.

The laboratory of Dr. Andres Gomez at the Department of Animal Science is looking for undergrad, grad students and prospective postdocs interested in microbiome research and the links between microbes and human/animal physiology. Members of the Gomez lab will be focusing on combining field and lab work with, bioinformatics and statistical tools to investigate the impact of microbes in human/animal health, nutrition and evolution, working in projects related to:

• Genetic, dietary and environmental drivers of animal/human microbiomes;
• Systems biology of microbiomes;
• Global patterns of the human/animal microbiome
• Host-microbe interactions

Applicants interested in these positions should send an e-mail to, with a cover letter and CV (including 3 references).

For the third year in a row, the University of Minnesota placed 1st overall in the collegiate dairy cattle judging contest held at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), Louisville, KY. The contest was on November 5. University of Minnesota teams have placed 1st overall in the NAILE collegiate contest 6 of the past 8 years.

In addition to placing 1st overall, the University of Minnesota placed 1st in both the Guernsey and Jersey breeds among the 13 four-year university teams competing this year. Team members were Brooke Roberts, Whitelaw, WI; Haely Leiding, Fountain, MN; Krista Styer, Menomonie, WI; and Trent Dado, Amery, WI.

Individually, Roberts placed 2nd overall, 1st in Jersey, and 4th in Brown Swiss, Leiding was 6th overall and 2nd in Holstein, Styer was 16th overall and 5th in Holstein, and Dado placed 3rd in Guernsey. Coaches were Dr. Les Hansen, Scott Ellinghuysen, Alicia Thurk, and Eric Houdek.
Team ranking: 1. Minnesota, 2. UW-River Falls, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. UW-Madison, 5. Iowa State, 6. Kansas State, 7. Purdue, 8. Ohio State, 9. UW-Platteville, 11. Penn State, 12. Michigan State, 13. North Dakota State.

First-place collegiate team from the University of Minnesota in the dairy cattle judging contest at NAILE, Louisville, KY (l. to r.): Haely Leiding, Fountain, MN; Trent Dado, Amery, WI; Krista Styer, Menomonie, WI; Brooke Roberts, Whitelaw, WI; and Dr. Les Hansen, coach.

On Friday, November 17, 2017, the 6th Annual Meat Lab Chili Cook Off was judged in the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science to determine the next name to be placed on the Chili Chalice! A total of 60 faculty, staff, and students from the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Nutrition judged 8 different chili entries.

First Place: Ryan Cox
Second Place: Chris Faulk
Third Place: Jordan Juckel

A special thanks to those who entered chili this year, in numerical order:

#1: Dallas Dornink
#2: Jordan Juckel
#3: Melissa Palmer
#4: Chris Faulk
#5: Chris Vandongen
#6: Tristan McNamara
#7: Ryan Cox
#8: Scott O'Grady

Department of Animal Science clothing is back, just in time for the holidays! There’s no better way to let people know you’re proud to be in Animal Science! Department clothing is sold as a fundraiser for the Animal Sciences Graduate Club.

The catalog includes many great items such as travel mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, and more!

Orders will be due Wednesday, November 29th!

The order form and catalog can be found at the Graduate Club website below:

Orders may be turned in to 305 Haecker Hall or mailed to the address below.

**All questions can be directed to Eric Houdek (
**Orders may be mailed in if they are received before November 29.
Animal Sciences Graduate Club
c/o Eric Houdek
1364 Eckles Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
**Buyers will receive an email when their order is ready with pick-up instructions. Orders usually take approximately two weeks to process. Pick-up will take place in Haecker Hall. In certain cases, orders may be shipped for an extra cost. Please contact Eric Houdek to discuss shipping.

We are excited to be moo-ving our event to Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Welch, MN, featuring a new location, new schedule, and new tradeshow layout!
The event begins on Tuesday, November 28th at 10:00 a.m. Highlights include:

• Minnesota Milk Annual meeting
• Keynote speaker, V.J. Smith with his inspirational talk, “The Richest Man in Town”
• Breakout room for Spanish-speaking employees
• Tradeshow with over 70 vendors
• Annual dinner and special 40th Anniversary celebration
• Annual Scholarship auction

• Speaker, Wes Jamison, who explores the topic of Agriculture Public Relations
• Speakers focused on economics, technology, health and more
• Tradeshow with over 70 vendors
• Breakout room for new and transitioning farms
• Night of networking and fun during the first Bowling Tournament

Conference registration includes access to all speakers, meals, and entrance to the tradeshow. After the 21st, registration costs increase to $50 per person for member farms and employees. Sign into your Minnesota Milk profile to register now for free or call us at 763-355-9697.

See you at the Island!

Applications are now being accepted for the Midwest Poultry Consortium’s 2018 Center of Excellence Scholarship and Internship Program (COE).

COE offers strong, research-based poultry science education followed by a paid poultry internship. Dates for the 2018 COE classes are May 14 – June 22, and internships begin shortly thereafter. Internships are a vital component of the COE experience and provide hands-on knowledge for students interested in a career within the poultry industry.

If interested in being a part of COE, apply here. The COE application is due December 4, 2017.

For more information, view the MPC's Recruitment Brochure or contact MPC at or (651) 766 - 8118. If you know of a student who would be a good candidate, please refer them to these resources.

Graduate Student Spotlights

Grace was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. She first moved to the United States in 2013 to attend the University of Minnesota, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. During her senior year, she volunteered in Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny’s lab and became interested in microbiology and food safety.

She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Animal Science, advised by Dr. Johny. Her research focuses on the antibacterial properties of plant-derived products against foodborne pathogens in poultry. Specifically, she is investigating the efficacy of essential oils against Salmonella colonization factors.

Beyond her academic activities, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, drawing, and occasionally playing badminton and video games.

Eric is pursuing a master’s in Animal Science focusing on dairy cattle genetics. He is co-advised by Drs. Les Hansen and Brad Heins. The main focus of his research is comparing the lactation curves of ProCROSS crossbred cows to pure Holsteins.

Eric grew up in Caledonia, Minnesota on his family’s 400 cow Registered Holstein farm. He attended the University of Minnesota where he majored in Animal Science with a dairy production emphasis. As an undergrad, Eric was involved in Gopher Dairy Club and Alpha Gamma Rho, and was also a member of the Dairy Judging Team and the Dairy Challenge Team.

In his spare time, Eric enjoys being outdoors, sports, and going home to help on his family’s farm.


Congratulations to graduate student Divek Nair on being a recipient of a 2018 Midwest Animal Science Young Scholar Award. Divek is a PhD student advised by Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny.