AnSci Connection - November 2018

Notes from the Department Head

Well, here we are once again just past the middle of November and rapidly approaching Thanksgiving Day.  Thanksgiving Day was celebrated off and on after the first one was proclaimed by George Washington in 1789.  The holiday was made a recurring federal holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln.  By the way, President Lincoln was also the President who signed the Morrill Act into law creating the Land Grant University System in the United States; and for that I and many others continue to be thankful.  Our Land Grant University system, of which University of Minnesota, CFANS, and Department of Animal Science are a part, is a national treasure that continues to contribute so much to Agriculture.  In many ways, Thanksgiving focuses on gratitude for Food and Agriculture.  For our safe and plentiful US food system we can be very thankful.

Of course another fond symbol of this fine holiday is the turkey, which Benjamin Franklin wished to be the national bird.  Though today’s domestic turkey is a grander creature than Mr. Franklin perhaps foresaw, the turkey contributes much to agriculture especially here in Minnesota.  Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to travel to Wilmar, MN with Steve Olson and other staff from the MN Turkey Growers Association to learn about and better connect with that industry.  Times have been challenging recently for that industry trying to deal with Low Path Avian Influenza and Salmonella, but I am very grateful for this industry and how they are managing around these recent challenges and delivering safe, nutritious, and tasty products to grocery stores and consumers every day, notably in time to be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving Day feasts.

November 15, 2018 was University of Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day.  Raising funds for scholarships to assist students with study abroad courses and travel grants for graduate students to attend conferences were the goals of the Animal Science Department.  Our students have a number of opportunities for study abroad classes led by Animal Scientists, including England and Wales, Italy, Thailand, and Belize.  Furthermore, our graduate students grow immensely by traveling to national conferences where they gain experience in presenting their research to audiences and get to meet influential researchers in their area of research.  Thanks to your generosity, the Animal Science Department raised $3500 on Give to the Max Day! For that, our entire Department of Animal Science is thankful.

There is probably a fine line between expressing what we are grateful for and bragging.  If singing the praises of our judging teams in Animal Science is bragging, so be it!   You will read more about the accomplishments of the judging teams in this and next month's newsletters.  First, the UMN Dairy Judging Team won first for the fourth consecutive year at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY (team members: Rachel Coyne, Kayla Leiding, Lauren Hendel, and Tanner Morrison, Coaches: Dr. Les Hansen, Alicia Thurk Hiebert, Gabriella Sorg, and Eric Houdek).  The UMN Livestock Judging Team (team members: Brady Bobendrier, Nick Pitlick, Brooke Roberts, Alyssa Groskopf, Dan Hayes, Jenni Fidler, Abby Penzenstadler and Mason Currie, Coaches: Kyle Rozeboom and Greg Harder) also had a successful judging season.  Finally, the UMN Undergraduate Animal Welfare Judging Team (competing only since 2017) placed first overall and Hannah Phillips (PhD student) placed third in her division at the 2018 AVMA Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest held this past weekend at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO (Team members: Julia Schroeck, Katie Raeker, Danielle Moews, Kaitlynn Akatsu, Samantha Likar, Ashley Skarda, Jen Reitan, Bridget Phillipon, and Drew Lehman, Coach: Dr. Beth Ventura, Assistant Coach: Rielle Perttu).  I could not be more proud of these teams and how well they represent the UMN Department of Animal Science.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.  Ski-U-Mah!

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

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Research by the Integrated Animal Systems Biology team was recently published in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal that covers primary research from any discipline within science and medicine. The authors on the paper included Marta Ferrandis Vila, Michaela Trudeau, Yuan-Tai Hung, Zhikai Zeng, Pedro Urriola, Gerald Shurson, and Milena Saqui-Salces. The article is titled “Dietary fiber sources and non-starch polysaccharide-degrading enzymes modify mucin expression and the immune profile of the swine ileum.”

Their paper reports the unexpected finding that addition of non-starch carbohydrates to swine diets can increase the expression of some proinflammatory molecules. They also demonstrated that swine intestine might respond differently to inflammatory signals than the mouse intestine. This is important because mice are the most commonly used animal model to define physiological mechanisms. In this case, it seems that mice might not be good models to understand some changes triggered by diet in swine intestine.

Non-starch carbohydrates are used in swine production to try to increase the nutritional value of diets with high fiber. Their study reveals that the carbohydrate addition can affect the expression of mucins and of inflammatory signals in the pig. Although their study does not necessarily provide an answer to this issue, it is important for swine producers to be aware of these effects and to animal science researchers focused on gut health, so they can all work on designing diets that promote animal health and growth, while keeping costs low.

Access the paper at this link:

News and Announcements

Left-Right: (Front Row) Abby Penzenstadler, Alyssa Groskopf, Jenni Fidler, Brooke Roberts (Back Row) Greg Harder, Assistant Coach; Mason Currie, Nick Pitlick, Brady Bobendrier, Dan Hayes, Kyle Rozeboom, Coach.

The 2018 University of Minnesota Livestock Judging team walked away with several individual and team honors throughout this past judging season, which concluded at the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest in Louisville, KY on November 13.  The team finished their careers by placing just outside the top ten in a very close and challenging contest.   They competed against 30 other college teams from throughout the United States.  Brady Bobendrier earned Reserve National Champion in sheep judging and Nick Pitlick was 10th overall in the Cattle Division. For the third time in Minnesota History, a Minnesota student was named to the All-American Team; Brooke Roberts received this distinguished honor.  

The 2018 team vied for honors in four major and several regional competitions throughout the past year.  They started off their careers with last January with a 4th place finish in swine, 5th in sheep and goats and a 7th place overall finish at their first major, the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO. Then it was off to Jackson, MS where the team ranked 4th overall at the Dixie National Judging Contest while bringing home many individual awards.  They continued to improve as they earned 3rd overall Team and put two people in the top ten at Nebraska Cattlemen’s Judging Contest last February in Kearney, NE.

Next on the schedule was the second major of the spring season the Houston Stock Show.  The team had an outstanding day earning 6th team overall while being 7th in cattle, 6th in sheep and 8th in oral reasons.   They completed the spring season placing by winning both the NACTA Judging contest and Livestock Management Contest in Norfolk, NE while having three of the top four contestants in reasons in the Livestock Contest.

During this recent fall swing, they competed at the National Barrow show, the Aksarben Livestock Judging Contest, and the Boilermaker Classic in preparation for the National contest.  The team performed with consistency during their fall season while earning another top ten placing in a major with a 8th overall finish at the American Royal in Kansas City,  They were also 5th high team in swine, and 6th in cattle while putting two individuals in the top 20 overall at the Royal.

In representing the Department of Animal Science and the University the students have traveled more than 25,000 miles and been in 16 states learning about the livestock industry as they prepared to compete in these contests. The team documented much of their travels and achievements via their Facebook page ( 

With too many to list, here is a brief sample of the individual highlights for the team members: 

--Brady Bobendrier - High individual in swine at the National Western and 8th overall, Reserve high individual sheep at the National Contest, 2nd High in Sheep Houston Contest

Team sweeps NACTA contest in Kearney, NE

-- Brooke Roberts – Third ever U of MN Student Named to All–American Team, 3rd Overall Individual Nebraska Cattlemen’s, 6th Swine Houston, 2nd High Brahman Division Dixie National

--Alyssa Groskopf - 5th high individual in National Western Carload Judging Contest, tied for 10th High Individual American Royal, 6th High Reasons NACTA

--Nick Pitlick- 5th overall Sioux Empire Contest, 10th High cattle National Contest

--Dan Hayes - High overall individual at the Minnesota Spring Barrow Show Contest, 8th reasons and 10th swine NACTA

--Jenni Fidler- 7th overall Continental Cattle Division Dixie National, 6th Sheep NACTA

--Abby Penzenstadler- High Individual NACTA Livestock Judging Contest, 4th in cattle and 9th High overall at Houston Stock Show Contest

-- Mason Currie- 3rd high individual NACTA Livestock Management Contest, 4th High Sheep Aksarben 

The Judging Team would like to take the opportunity to thank the Animal Science faculty and staff that have supported and assisted team members during their career. 

The team would personally like to thank Greg Harder for all his help and assistance throughout this past year and more importantly, we wish him the best of luck as he steps down as assistant coach after 20 years working with the program.      

Finally, the team would especially like to thank those that have supported the livestock judging program either monetarily or by allowing the Judging Team to visit and practice at their place.  Past team members and alumni are the strongest assets to the Department of Animal Science and we sincerely appreciate your support of the Livestock Judging Program. The U of M Livestock Judging Program is proud of our past and the progress we are making toward the future. 

First-place collegiate team from the University of Minnesota in the dairy cattle judging contest at NAILE, Louisville, KY (l. to r.): Tanner Morrison, Peterson, MN; Lauren Hendel, Caledonia, MN; Kayla Leiding, Fountain, MN; Rachel Coyne, Spring Valley, WI; and Dr. Les Hansen, coach.

For the 4th year in a row, the University of Minnesota placed 1st overall in the collegiate dairy cattle judging contest held on November 4 at the North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), Louisville, KY. The margin of victory was 30 points over 2nd place Virginia Tech with 3 Minnesota team members among the top 6 individuals.  Eighteen 4-year universities competed in the contest.  Teams from the University of Minnesota have placed 1st overall in the Louisville collegiate contest 7 of the past 9 years.

In addition to placing 1st overall, the University of Minnesota team was 1st in oral reasons by an 8-point margin, was 1st in the Jersey breed, and placed among the top 5 teams in all 5 breeds.  Team members were Rachel Coyne, Spring Valley, WI; Kayla Leiding, Fountain, MN; Lauren Hendel, Caledonia, MN; and Tanner Morrison, Peterson, MN.   

Individually, Coyne was 2nd overall, 1st in Ayrshire, and 2nd in Jersey, Leiding was 4th overall, Hendel was 6th overall and 1st in Jersey, and Morrison was 4th in Jersey and 5th in Holsteins.  Coaches were Dr. Les Hansen, Alicia Thurk Hiebert, Eric Houdek, and Gabriella Sorg. 

Team ranking: 1. Minnesota, 2. Virginia Tech, 3. Ohio State, 4. Michigan State, 5. Cal Poly, 6. UW-Platteville, 7. Cornell, 8. Iowa State, 9.  UW-Madison, 10. Purdue, 11. Tarleton State, 12. Kansas State, 13. UW-River Falls, 14. Penn State, 15. South Dakota State, 16. Kentucky, 17. North Dakota State, 18. West Virginia.

(L to R): Carolina Mendes (Quality Control Manager), Marina Urbanski (Quality Control Analyst), and Brian Mike (Co-product Marketer) with FS Bioenergia (a new corn ethanol plant in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, Brazil) and Dr. Jerry Shurson.

Dr. Jerry Shurson was a speaker at the 2018 CLANA (Congress of Latin America Animal Nutrition) conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This event was held from October 16-18, 2018. There were about 600 academic and industry animal nutritionist from Latin America in attendance. Dr. Shurson presented “Precision DDGS Nutrition for Swine.” This presentation was a summary of the research completed on DDGS over the last 20 years. The presentation was well received with numerous questions from attendees and news media interviews afterward.

The CLANA conference is one of the largest animal nutrition conferences in Latin America. The focus of the conference is to provide that latest research information related to optimizing nutrition for ruminants. A program track involves quality control/assurance in feed manufacturing.

As printed in The CFANS Insider 

Emily Annexstad, right, and Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke, left, will advance to the MFBF state Collegiate Discussion Meet competition in November.

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) hosted a regional Collegiate Discussion Meet at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities St. Paul Campus on October 30. This year’s regional winner was Emily Annexstad of St. Peter in Nicollet County who is studying animal science and agricultural communications and marketing. The runner-up was Haleigh Ortmeier-Clarke of Slayton in Murray County who is studying plant science. 

Undergraduate students in agriculture from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities took part in the meet. Students participated in two rounds of discussion and were judged on their basic knowledge of critical farm issues and their ability to exchange ideas and information in a setting aimed at cooperative problem solving. The two topics discussed by contestants were:

  • Technology is one of the driving forces for innovation and advancement in agriculture. How can agriculture attract the best and brightest minds from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) into agricultural careers?
  • Money talks. How can farmers implement market trends and develop responsive business plans to generate value-added ventures and farm profits?

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation sponsors a $200 scholarship for the winner and a $100 scholarship for the runner-up for each regional Collegiate Discussion Meet. Annexstad and Ortmeier-Clarke will advance to the state Collegiate Discussion meet to be held on Saturday, November 17 as part of the 100th MFBF Annual Meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. The state winner receives an expense-paid trip from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation sponsored by Christensen Farms to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Collegiate Discussion Meet in March 2019. The winner also receives a $500 scholarship and the runner-up a $250 scholarship from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation sponsored by Gislason & Hunter.

Dr. Jerry Shurson is one of three speakers in a webinar titled “DDGS and Amino Acid Nutrition in Swine Diets.” Jerry will be presenting alongside Isaac Crawford, VP Trading and Merchandising for POET Nutrition, and Dr. Kevin Herrick, Technical Services Director, POET Nutrition. The webinar will be hosted on December 5th, 2018 at 9 a.m.

POET Nutrition and Dakota Gold sponsor the webinar. The goal of this educational opportunity is to start the interactive discussion on the topic of increasing DDGS inclusion in rations for swine. The key learning points for the webinar are optimal DDGS inclusion for swine diets, amino acid considerations with greater DDGS inclusion, economics of greater DDGS inclusions, results from recent DDGS research and DDGS market updates.

Sign up today:

Eliza Theis, 2018 COE graduate.

Applications are being accepted for the Midwest Poultry Consortium’s 2019 Center of Excellence Scholarship and Internship Program (COE).

Students in the program take 6 weeks of summer courses, hosted at University of Wisconsin Madison. In those 6 weeks students take 3 poultry focused classes and earn 9 credits.  The second part of the summer students complete paid internships in the poultry industry.

The credits earned during the summer transfer back to UMN and be used toward a poultry science emphasis to go along with your major.

If interested in being a part of COE, apply here. The COE application is due December 3, 2018.

Applications can be found at / For more information, view the MPC's Recruitment Brochure at or contact MPC at or (651) 766 - 8118. 


Dr. Pedro Urriola traveled to La Plata, Argentina to teach a week-long course in swine nutrition. The course on swine nutrition is part of a graduate program in animal nutrition and it is organized by the secretary of post-graduate education at the school of veterinary medicine of “The National University of La Plata”.  The graduate program in animal nutrition has international recognition counting with 23 students from Argentina, two from Uruguay, and one from Paraguay. Pedro was responsible for all educational material and lectures, and he combined elements of active learning that were new to his teaching style. The course in swine nutrition is a response to growing pork production in Argentina. This country has one of the highest per-capita consumption of beef but comparatively low consumption of pork. However, it continuously grew in recent years.   

Graduate Student Spotlights

Shiji is a second year master’s student with Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny. Her current research focuses on the alternatives to antibiotics in poultry production. Shiji has a bachelor’s degree (DVM equivalent) from Kerala Veterinary & Animal Sciences University (KVASU), India. After her DVM program, she completed a certificate course on ‘One Health’ from KVASU. Then she served as a research assistant in the poultry and duck farm at KVASU and got acquainted with poultry management practices and processing technology. She enjoys reading stories in her leisure time.


Congratulation to Haley Johnson on completing her PhD program. Haley was advised by Drs. Marshall Stern and Alfredo DiCostanzo.

Calendar of Events

Nov 26 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Worthington, MN

Nov 27 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Pipestone, MN

Nov 28 - PQA+ Certification, Stewartville, MN

Nov 28 - TQA Certification, Stewartville, MN

Dec 5 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Hutchinson, MN

Dec 6 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Winthrop, MN

Dec 12 - PQA+ Certification, Mankato, MN

Dec 12 - TQA Certification, Mankato, MN

Dec 13 - Women in Ag Network December Quarterly Event, St. Cloud, MN

Dec 13 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Rushford Village, MN

Dec 14 - Artemisia Seminar: Shefali Mehta, "Building your own resilient ecosystem from failure", St. Paul, MN

Dec 14 - Secure Pork Supply Workshop, Blooming Prairie, MN