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News - Fall 2005 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, Fall 2005
Volume 2, Number 2


A New Recruit
Dr. Scott Raymond Randolph Haskell, the new extension veterinarian and director of the Maine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, is a man whose affability and enthusiasm are immediately evident. Dr. Haskell’s education, as well as his experience, is extensive, having lent his expertise all across the United States and internationally, even as far away as Moldova and Bangladesh. Born in California, Scott began his education with a BS, with honors, in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis. Since then, he has continually furthered his schooling over the years, having accumulated a master’s in Animal Physiology, DVM in Production Medicine, MPVM in Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, and a pending PhD in Comparative Pathology, all from UC, Davis. In much of his work, in the U.S. as well as internationally, his research has focused on ecosystem toxicology, anthropogenic, or human-caused impacts on ecosystem health, environmental microbiology and antibiotic resistance, and the international emergence of zoonotic disease. Domestically, a vast majority of Dr. Haskell’s previous projects have been located in the Southwest, specifically California, Arizona, and Nevada. Here he dealt primarily with dairies, as well as cow-calf and stocker operations, and some feedlot work for 17 years. Due to the highly seasonal nature of many of the animal species with which he has worked, different times of the year would bring different opportunities. His dairy, as with his aquaculture work, was year-round and centered on mastitis and reproduction in dairy cows. Aquaculture projects were involved with disease, diagnostic capabilities, certification for import, and vaccine and antibiotic development in hybrid striped bass, trout, and tilapia. Summers meant working with respiratory diseases in feedlots, with cow-calf projects most often during the fall. His sheep, goat, and camelid projects were generally in fall and spring, encompassing a number of aspects such as reproduction in llamas and alpacas, mastitis in dairy goats, and all manner of work with meat goats and sheep. Dr. Haskell attributes some of his most trying work to camelid producers, whom he jokingly describes as “purebred dog people on steroids”. Internationally, Dr. Haskell has traveled to a myriad of different countries for a variety of projects. In Moldova and the Ukraine, former Soviet satellites, he taught Capitalistic food-animal management techniques and diseases in milking sheep, respectively. Beef cattle health issues awaited him in Guatemala, and in Bangladesh, he dealt with sustainability of meat issues in goats. To fund all these ventures, Dr. Haskell owned three veterinary clinics supporting 14 employees and three associate veterinarians. In 2007 he will be traveling to Haiti for two weeks to train vet techs in livestock disease management. Dr. Haskell has also been involved in prudent drug usage and utilization, having worked closely with the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act, to enable drugs to be used on an extra-label basis. Anytime a drug’s dosage or method of administration is altered it is considered as being used extra-label, a common practice with sheep, goat, and fish, as well as being relatively popular in the beef and dairy industry. His current projects, at UMaine, include a number that are analyzing aspects of the Maine organic beef and dairy industry. Such projects include herbal treatment for respiratory disease in beef cattle operations and it’s effect on immune function, and alternative teat dipping and medicines for treatment of mastitis in dairy cattle. In the realm of aquaculture he is involved in the creation of a prevalence index of diseases within the oyster, lobster, and sea urchin industry. One of Dr. Haskell’s most interesting current projects is his attempt to develop rapid, on-farm diagnostic tests for common livestock diseases such as Johne’s, Salmonella, and E. Coli. As is evident, Dr. Scott Haskell brings a fascinating, unique, and impressive history to the department and makes a wonderful addition to the UMaine family. Welcome, Dr. Haskell! (Picture Caption: The photograph of Dr. Haskell was taken in front of a Dairy facility milking Water Buffalo in Rajasthan, India)

University of Maine Students Compete in Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge
Recently, ten animal science students from the University of Maine competed in the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge held October 20-22, 2005, in Norwich, NY. SUNY Morrisville hosted the contest, with 110 students from 13 agricultural universities throughout the Northeast competing. The ten students from the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences were Mike Brown of China, Josh Bergstrom of Orono, Emily Hastings of Bangor, Matt Rolleston of Sebec, Kara Pietroski of Thomaston, Ken Hoyt of Eliot, Tom Lund of New Gloucester, Stephanie Beamish of Berwick, Jennianne O’Connor of Middleboro, MA, and Katelyn Romano of Rowley, MA. Dr. David Marcinkowski, Associate Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist coached the team. Mike Brown received the highest award, which is the platinum award. Emily Hastings and Josh Bergstrom both received gold awards, which are the second highest awards. Team members are now looking forward to the national competition to be held in Twin Falls, ID in April of 2006. The Dairy Challenge is a two-day competition that enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy, while working as part of a team. On the first day, teams of four students receive production and farm management data from a real working dairy. After an inspection of the farm, participants interview the farm manager and then develop a farm analysis and presentation, including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing, and financial management. On the second day, team members present recommendations to a panel of judges and then answer questions from these judges. Presentations are evaluated, based on their analysis and recommendations. For more information on the Dairy Challenge, or those involved, contact David Marcinkowski at 1-800-287-7170 or email at


Philip Ferenczy
Phil is a 2004 graduate with a BS in Animal Science and a minor in Zoology. His graduate study is on Measuring Thyroid Hormone Levels in Postpartum Cows Through Lactation and what effect they have on milk production and the overall health of the cows. His advisor for the project is Dr. James Weber. Along with working on his thesis, Phil assists with teaching AVS 346, Dairy Cattle Technology, and still finds time to support his two favorite teams, the Bills and Sabres. After obtaining his masters at UMaine, Phil hopes to work at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s animal research lab back in his hometown of Buffalo, NY.

Christian Boegel
Chris graduated from UMaine in 2004 with a BS in Animal Science and minored in Business Administration. His graduate thesis is on testing effects of alternative medicine against Pasteurella sp. found in organic beef herds, under the tutelage of Dr. Scott Haskell. The project is designed to test MOFGA recommended herbal and homeopathic treatments for effectiveness. Chris’ future goals are the completion of his masters degree and to continue doing research in the field.

Kristy Palmer
Kristy is in her second year as an AVS department graduate student, having completed a BS in Animal Science with minors in Equine Studies and English. Her senior project was with Dr. James Weber on the Morris Water Maze and hyperthyroid mice. Her graduate thesis is along these same lines, but concentrating more fully on developmental mouse behavior and reflexes. Kristy’s hobbies mainly include excursions with her horse, Brewer Bay, who is a successful example of the Witter Farm Standard-bred Retraining Program. Kristy collects tropical fish and also enjoys pet sitting, on the side, as she has not yet settled down long enough to have her own.


  • Benjamin Cole. Ben graduated with a BS in Animal Science in 1999. Since graduating he has had a wide variety of interesting careers. He has managed several pet shops over the years and worked in the Special Animal Services division of Charles River Labs in 2000. In 2001, Ben took a job at the University of Florida’s Animal Care Services Program as a conventionally housed mice supervisor while also dabbling in positions involved with infectious disease, importation/quarantine, and quality assurance. While still remaining at the University of Florida, he left Animal Care Services in 2003 for his current position as a biological scientist under Dr. Brian Herfe in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department. He manages almost 40 strains of mice, performs genetic analysis, and trains graduate students in husbandry/colony maintenance. On the side, Ben helps to maintain a colony of nearly 1000 venomous reptiles at Medtoxin Labs in Deland, Florida, which supplies venom to numerous companies and researchers for chemical analysis, as well as anti-venom and human drug production.
  • Maggie Berry. Class of 2001 graduate Maggie Berry began working for an antigen company directly out of college. During her three years there her responsibilities ranged from assisting with the animals themselves to working in the labs with thousands of antigens. Maggie has recently changed careers, pursuing veterinary medicine and assisting with orthopedic surgery as a vet tech for North Deering Veterinary Hospital.

December Graduates

  • George Sharrard. George is originally from New York City, New York and will graduate from UMaine with a dual-major in Animal Science and Marine Biology. After graduation he hopes to work for Genex as an A.I. Technician. His ideal job, however, would be to own his own farm with a herd of registered Black Angus and a second herd of commercial cattle. Outside of school he enjoys SCUBA diving, hunting, fishing, hiking, four-wheeling and just being outdoors. George has been actively involved with Witter Farm and the Maine Animal Club for several years.
  • Emily Hastings. Born and raised right in Bangor, Emily graduates this month with a BS in Animal Science. She doesn’t currently know what her future plans are, but someday hopes to work with small, exotic animals. Emily recently received a gold award for her performance at the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge and currently assists with teaching the lab portion of the UMADCOWS.
  • Tyler Cote. While still a December graduate, Tyler left UMaine earlier this year to begin vet school at the University of Tennessee.

Good Luck Graduates!!

A “Yes” on Question 3
On this past November 8th, Maine voters were asked to cast their ballot decisions upon seven different questions, one of which means a great deal to the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center. Approximately $800,000 of the bond is earmarked specifically for renovations and maintenance of Witter Farm that will allow it to meet specific federal guidelines designed for teaching and research facilities. The main project for which the money is hopefully destined will be a new livestock facility built after the demolition of the old livestock barn, provided that all current safety issues are addressed first. Designed to be completed in three phases, the foundation and shell of the facility is expected to cost approximately $640,000, a very large portion of the original bond payment. Phase I includes the majority of the work such as the demolition of the old structure, regrading the site, and construction of the new building. Phases II and III involve a new office and upper-level lounge and lobby addition. If the existing building could be removed, then the foundation could be poured for the new structure, while additional funds are raised for it’s completion, a mere $12 million. Please send your checks to the editor! Significant improvements to the dairy barn include replacing the milk pipe system and waste conveyer mechanism, while in the heifer barn there are plans to redesign and relocate the existing rail chutes to allow easier and more efficient movement of animals. Other important general improvements include repairing the main road to the farm, a new open face structure for sheep housing, and mending numerous safety issues throughout the entire complex. All projects being discussed have been given a priority rating of 1 to 5, however, estimated cost has not been seriously evaluated for anything other than the new livestock facility.

UMaine Wins Grant to Study Organic Dairy Cropping Systems
The Organic Grant, as it is most commonly referred to, is a joint venture between the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Maine Organic Milk Producers. It is in response to the new rise in interest and demand for organic dairy products and therefore organic dairy research. The grant is an $829,000 four-year commitment for researching and developing methods to reduce costs and increase the quality of feed for organic dairy farms. Feeding trials will be conducted at both the UMaine and UNH campuses, while the cropping systems experiment will take place on the UMaine fields only. The purpose is to hopefully identify and develop the most productive and profitable rotations of organic feed crops. The new project has been described as the most comprehensive research on organic dairy rotations that has ever been designed. As mentioned, consumers have started to show a remarkable interest in organic products and recently New England farmers in particular have sought to capitalize on this market opportunity. Unfortunately, dairy farms in New England come across many barriers to be a successful organic farm. Due to such short summers, the growing season is too brief to produce enough feed to support large herds. Therefore, most farmers must rely on stored feed and grain, which is the single most costly aspect of managing a farm. With feed cost generally making up 44 percent of annual expense, organic farmers are desperately looking for ways to reduce expenditure by growing enough of their own grain and high quality forage. The experiments at Witter would test four basic cropping scenarios each designed to suit organic farmers with different needs, taking into account farm size, available resources, and affordable risk. The results from these experiments will be invaluable to any of the 65 certified organic farms currently in the state of Maine, as well as the dozens more who are presently in the three-year transition period where pesticide, antibiotic, growth hormone, or chemical fertilizer use is strictly prohibited. This timeframe is required before organic herds and farms can be deemed certified. As a way to track progress within their research, annual field days will be arranged at Witter, as well as at a private organic farm, to allow discussion of results. For more information about the Organic Grant or the Maine organic dairy farm industry contact Rich Kersbergen (207) 342-5971, Jon Jemison, (207) 581-3241, and Tim Griffin, (207) 581-3292.

Hard Work in the Big Easy
Born in Scarborough, Maine, but raised in Sandwich, Massachusetts, 20-year old Stephanie Moriarty has already done more for animal welfare than most people will throughout their entire lives. Having transferred from the University of Maine at Farmington for the fall semester, Stephanie volunteered for a whirlwind, seven-day pilgrimage to New Orleans to rescue animals still trapped or stranded in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Brought in as part of a veterinary medical team, she spent her days breaking into houses, based on reports of pets left abandoned in cages and kennels, or still leashed, and left to drown during the evacuation. Rescued animals were then transferred to the Gonzales Lamar Dixon Expo Center, which had been refitted as an emergency animal shelter housing over 1,000 animals. With temperatures routinely exceeding 100ºF with 100% humidity, “conditions were horrible”, Stephanie admits, “the experience was probably the most physically and emotionally trying time of my life.” Nights were spent with a separate team that prepared sick and injured animals for transport to other facilities in the mornings. “Every time I got up to go to the bathroom I would be put on a truck headed elsewhere”, says Stephanie who prepped animals for exportation for other shelters in the area as well, at one point loading refugees for a flight to a shelter in Sacramento, California, that was supplied and funded by John Travolta.

While quite an amazing story, Stephanie is no stranger to dedication and excellence. Having worked in animal shelters since she was 7 years old, she earned the Human Hero of the Year Award at the MSPCA, as well as employee of the month and the Above and Beyond Award for her work at the Bangor Humane Society. Stephanie has raised guide dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, as well as training her own two dogs to work as part of the Companion Animal Program, which helps to improve quality of life for seniors in nursing homes. In addition to excelling at work and school, Stephanie helped the UMF softball team win their 2005 championship and earned MVP in the process. She was even invited by the International World Sports Tour to continue her sports career in Australia.

After graduation Stephanie hopes to attend vet school at Michigan State and eventually practice in animal shelters or “wherever I find the most need”. Her major goal is to work with other vets to elevate spaying and neutering as a top priority. Covering all her bases, Stephanie is also currently seeking a degree in Criminal Justice at the University College of Bangor in case she is unsuccessful in being accepted to vet school. However, considering her breadth of knowledge, dedication, humanity, and experience, one can imagine that Stephanie Moriarty would be an invaluable addition not just to any university, but to the field of veterinary medicine.

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