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Animal and Veterinary Sciences

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News - Spring 2004 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, June 2004
Volume 1, Number 1

NESA 2004

The Northeastern Student Affiliate (N.E.S.A) is an annual competition between ten Northeastern Universities that involves livestock judging, an animal science based quiz bowl competition, and agriculture-based paper presentations. The Maine Animal Club of the University of Maine hosted and competed in this competition February 27-29. Months of planning and preparation went into this event, but in the end it was a huge success. An outstanding group of Maine students worked together in hosting this event at Pineland Farms, in New Gloucester and about 175 students attended from ten New England schools. The Maine Animal Club also did an excellent job representing the University of Maine in the competition itself.

Team UMaine A:Chris Boegel, Seth McGee, Tanya Farrington and Meredith Spiller placed placed first in livestock judging and were second in the overall competition out of thirty-seven teams. All the Maine competitors placed in the top ten in the paper presentations. Trudy Robinson placed tenth for “Small Worm…BIG Problem,” Philip Ferenczy was eighth for “Got Milk, Want More?” and Meredith Spiller gave a commanding performance to place third place with her presentation on Scrapies eradication. In the overall University category of awards, where all the scores are added together, the University of Maine placed third out of ten universities.

Many thanks go to Marika O’Brien and Pineland Farms for allowing us to use their facilities to hold the event and for their help with its organization. A huge thank you also goes out to all the faculty, staff and volunteers that supported the Maine Animal Club throughout the entire planning process and for helping out on the day of the competition.
By Martha Hart, Class of 2004, and Erika Harris, Class of 2005

The Maine Equine Program

The University of Maine Equine program originated with students in 1997 asking Dean Wiersma to include horses in University life at Maine. Since then a teaching and research program has grown up at the Witter Center using retired racehorses as experimental animals, for teaching, and to bring income to the program by retraining these race horses for sale as pleasure horses. A good working relationship has been established with the local harness racing industry, with a University of Maine Racehorse competing at Bangor Raceway and the Maine fairs. In cooperation with the department of Resource (Race-horse?) Economic Policy, University of Maine students and faculty assisted the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association host a highly successful sale at Pineland Equestrian center in New Gloucester. Students also board their horses at the Witter Center. Outside instructors provide instruction in Centered Riding, Western Riding, and coordinate the equine management coop at the Witter Center. These classes are administered through CED, which pays the instructors salaries. There is currently little to no base budget allocated to teaching within the horse program. All money is raised through donations or selling horses. Checks can be made payable to the University of Maine and mailed to Robert Causey, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Hitchner Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5735.

The equine research program has recently collaborated with workers at the University of Kentucky to test an intranasal live-attenuated Salmonella vaccine for development of mucosal antibody responses in the uterus against uterine pathogens. This collaboration has resulted in a $75,000 USDA grant to test a salmonella vaccine expressing a streptococcal cell wall antigen. In collaboration with Robert Lehnhard in the college of education, and Ken McKeever at Rutgers University, results of research performed at UMaine and Rutgers to study the effects of exercise on the pregnant mare and her fetus will be presented at an upcoming American Sports Medicine meeting.
By Robert Causey

Lobster Institute Web Site To See Technology Upgrade

Orono, Maine Want to know where female lobsters carry their eggs? Or check out some good lobster recipes? One of the best sites on the Web for lobster information,, is maintained by the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. Now grants of $1,000 from the Northeast Farm Credit AgEnhancement Program and $2,000 from Maine Sea Grant will enable the institute to upgrade the site with new technology.

“Internet users from around the world have tapped into lobster expertise offered by the Institute,” says Cathy Billings, assistant director for communications and development. “There have been hundreds of thousands of hits on the Institute’s Web site since its creation. In addition, we estimate well over 200 other sites have linked to ours. Those visiting the site include fishermen and others involved in the lobster industry, scientists, students and teachers at all levels, resource managers, and many just simply interested in the lobster industry,” says Billings.

“Web technology, both software and hardware, has seen tremendous progress since our site came online,” she adds. “It has become a conglomeration of technologies that evolved over time. This mixed bag worked reasonably well until the recent loss of the host server that had been dedicated to the Institute’s site since its inception. We now need some serious modernization and will also take this opportunity to enhance the look of our site and make accessing the information easier. The funding from Maine Sea Grant and the Northeast Farm Credit AgEnhancement Program will give us a great start on this project.”

The resources available via the Lobster Institute Web site include:

As planning for upgrading of the Lobster Institute’s Web site gets underway, the site can still be accessed online at, but several of its features are temporarily out of service. The Institute would like to raise an additional $10,000 to complete the modernization process and incorporate enhancements to the site. People interested in more information about the Lobster Institute and ways to contribute to this project can contact Cathy Billings at 207-581-2751.

Budget Cuts Again

In our December issue of Mainely Progress I related some of the changes that have happened to AVS since we were forced to stop publishing a newsletter in 1990. One thing that has not changed at UM is another round of budget cuts, is this fourteen years in a row, or more? I’ve lost count. The percentage cut is very small, about 1.6%, but when over 90% of your budget is tied up in salaries and wages it is the operating budget that takes the hit, and the cut is a much bigger percentage. We will lose about two thirds of our operating budget for the next academic year. To keep us operating I spread this between two operating accounts and the faculty each lost 11.2% of their already meager Hatch research dollars. It is unfortunate that one of the highest taxed states in the nation, that started one of the first Land-Grant Colleges, which places so much emphasis on the importance of education to the economy, cannot support its university so that we can adequately educate Maine students so that they can further help that economy.
By Martin Stokes

Congratulations To This Year’s Graduates


Dr. Howard Chester Dickey, 90, died peacefully Jan. 13, 2004 surrounded by his loving family at a Bangor hospital. He was born June 26, 1913, in Durand, Mich., the son of Lee Carlton and Mae Belle (Dean) Dickey. Howard graduated from Durand High School, Durand, Mich., as valedictorian of the class of 1930. He went on to receive a BS degree from Michigan State, East Lansing, Mich., a MA degree from West Virginia and received his PhD from Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa. During this time he received honors of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and was an Emeritus Life Member of Phi Kappa Phi. He was a professor at Colorado State College, Fort Collins, Colo., from 1939-1945, and at the University Vermont, Burlington, from 1945-1947. Howard then became the Chairman of Animal Science at the University of Maine, Orono, from 1947-1957 until he decided to work with research of animal genetics and as a professor until his retirement in 1976. He enjoyed traveling and had been all over the world as well as all 50 states of the USA. Howard was a longtime member of the Orono United Methodist Church where he held various offices and with his wife, Ruth was known for the caring nature of hospitality of welcoming people to the church. His enthusiasm for life, his love for animals and gardens, his wit and storytelling and much more will be remembered forever. (Quoted from the Bangor Daily News, January 17, 2004)


Outside Support of Research and Teaching

Martin Stokes, Professor and Chair of AVS, received one of only two awards made by Chr. Hansen Animal Health and Nutrition, in their nationwide Explore 2004 Research Program. Stokes will compare the effectiveness of two new silage inoculants designed specifically to improve the aerobic stability of corn silage. Stokes was invited to visit the Chr. Hansen operation in Milwaukee in May to receive his award and to discuss his proposal.

Stokes is also a co-PI on a USDA Higher Education Program Grant funded for three years beginning October 2003. University professors at Rutgers, Richmond, UConn and Maine are cooperating with the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD to generate image galleries to improve the teaching of Animal Nutrition and Animal Reproduction.

Grant support, particularly for our research, is critical to us continuing to meet our Teaching, Research, and Public Service mission to the State of Maine.

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Contact Information

Animal and Veterinary Sciences
5735 Hitchner Hall, University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5735
Phone: (207)581-2770 | Fax: (207) 581-2729E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System