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News - Spring 2005 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, June 2005
Volume 2, Number 1

model of livestock arena
Making the Dream a Reality
Continued growth of our academic programs calls for the expansion of the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center. The centerpiece of this expansion is the Equine and Livestock Pavilion. With over 300 students attending classes, working or volunteering at the Center, and with the return of the veterinary technology program to the University of Maine, demand for hands-on learning at the farm is increasing rapidly. The proposed Equine and Livestock Pavilion at the Center will have a significant impact.

Furthermore, by expanding our programs through an indoor arena, we will provide year-round educational, research, and outreach opportunities. Maine’s winters are long and consequently many of the activities at the center are hampered by inclement weather. A new indoor facility is necessary to make the center a fully functional, year-round facility. Examples of this impact abound. Students who show beef and dairy animals would gain a place to practice and train in preparation for events both inside and outside the state of Maine. It will afford students participating in equestrian sports a place to practice, receive coaching, and host shows on campus, rather than in the frigid temperatures and unstable footings paddocks in January provide. Faculty and students can work with the Standardbred horses throughout the winter and have the animals retrained and ready to be sold for pleasure horses in the spring. Important research about equine and livestock health can be conducted year around.

The construction, design and placement of this new facility will fundamentally reorient the entire farm. With its main entrance facing the road (instead of back, behind and away from the road as now currently exists), the new structure will provide a long-overdue entrance that reflects the outstanding programs operating here day in and day out, year-round with no days off for holidays. As a welcome center for the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center, the complex offices will be housed in the building as well as additional classroom/meeting room.

The building will be 120′ x 220′ with inside dimensions of 100′ x 200′, similar in size to an Olympic ice hockey rink. The area will have a five-foot walkway that will surround the pavilion enabling people to view arena events safely from anywhere on the floor. Because the arena is multipurpose, collapsible pens will be used to accommodate different species of animals for research and teaching purposes. There will be a covered walkway between the horse barn and arena. The second floor will have a mezzanine that will be available for viewing events or classes in session, and a location to hold social events. Plans call for renovation of a portion of the existing horse barn to add a tack room, land clearance for additional pasture and paddocks and increased parking facilities.

The indoor pavilion will be available for lease to a wide variety of community organizations. Students in 4-H can use the facility to train and show animals. Students and others who board their horse at the farm will be able to use the arena in inclement weather and throughout the winter months. In addition, the University will be able to offer clinics for riders, trainers, blacksmiths, and veterinarians that are currently impossible. The facility will be a meeting point for many segments of the equine and livestock industries and may offer opportunities for organizations to use the space for other events such as horticultural shows, sportsman events and other campus and community activities that require a large, open indoor space.

Education is about opening doors, creating opportunities, thinking beyond the box. The proposed Equine and Livestock Pavilion at the J.F. Witter Teaching Center speaks to a commitment of open minds, limitless possibilities, and the advances in research, animal, care, breeding, and treatment that such efforts generate. Education makes the world work better. The more we know, the better we can serve our world around us. This pavilion advances that mission. And there is no better one to advance. The Equine and Livestock Pavilion is the crown jewel that will complete the goal, set in 1997, to make the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research a student-centered learning experience in a total animal science system.

Witter and Chute Gifts Meet the Challenge
The Equine and Livestock Pavilion project recently got a tremendous boost thanks to generous lead gifts from Dr. Richard Witter, son of J. Franklin Witter, for whom the Witter Center is named, and Dr. Harold Chute, professor emeritus of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. With their gifts we were able to meet a special challenge matching grant opportunity made possible by a bequest from William N. Forman, a 1937 agricultural engineering alumnus whose donation was to be used at the discretion of the University president.

In May 2004, former President Peter Hoff issued a challenge to the Livestock Pavilion Project and three other priority projects. The challenge stated, “During the next twelve months, each project will have an opportunity to match up to $100,000 per project. If the challenge is met, the project will agree to create an appropriate naming opportunity in honor of Mr. Forman.”

Thanks to Richard and Joan Witter and Harold and Marion Chute we met the challenge!


University of Maine Team Receives Gold in North American Dairy Challenge
Senior students from UMaine won a gold placing in a tie for Fourth at the Annual North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC) held April 8-9, 2005, in State College, Pa. Penn State University hosted the 2005 contest, with 26 teams from the United States and 1 team from Canada competing.

The AVS team consisted of Reagan Ames of Skowhegan, Phil Ferenczy of Hamburg, NY, Erika Harris of Rumford, and Trudy Robinson from Dalton, NH . Associate Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist Dr. David Marcinkowski coached the team.

NAIDC is an innovative two-day competition for students representing dairy science programs at North American universities. It enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy, while working as part of a four-person team.

Day One began with each team receiving information about a working dairy, including production and farm management data. After an in-person inspection of one of three designated dairies, participants interviewed the herd managers. Then each team developed a farm analysis and presentation materials, including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, housing and financial management. On Day Two, team members presented recommendations to, and fielded questions from, a panel of judge. Presentations were evaluated, based on the analysis and recommendations. The evening concluded with a reception and awards banquet.

The NAIDC was established as a management contest to incorporate all phases of a specific dairy business. It strives to incorporate a higher-learning atmosphere with practical application to help prepare students for careers in the dairy industry. Supported financially through generous donations by agribusinesses and coordinated by a volunteer steering committee, the first NAIDC was held in April 2002.


Hairy Sheep DNA
One of the greatest problems facing sheep producers in the US and worldwide is internal parasites. This problem is most noteable in the Southeastern US where many sheep producers are finding that their de-wormers are not working, causing a reduction in growth of their sheep, which equals a reduction of profits. Over the past year we have studied the ability of Katahdin Hair Sheep to resist internal parasite infection and if their resistance is associated with a specific microsatellite marker on sheep chromosome 5.

We infected fourteen ¾ Katahdin ewe lambs with Haemonchus contortus, the most pathogenic and drug resistant parasite that feeds on the sheep’s blood. At four weeks post infection, the lambs peaked in their fecal egg count but by week six fecal egg counts were reduced by 27.5%. Genetic differences were analyzed through DNA sequencing of the microsatellite marker CSRD 2138 but no differences were found between the lambs in this study. However, this is the first sequence of this segment and now research can focus on comparing resistant and susceptible genotypes, which will work towards specific identification of resistant individuals.

Not only have these sheep been used for research but have been useful in providing more hands on experience in laboratory courses at the Witter farm. Students have been involved in data collection, maintenance and care of animals and have used this project for their class assignments, senior projects and master’s theses.

The sheep used in this project were loaned to us from the Northeast Katahdin Hairsheep Project located in Buxton, Maine. This is a collaborative project between the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Bowdoin College funded by Northeast SARE. Since 2000, Tom Settlemire (Bowdoin College) and Richard Brzozowski (UMCE) have been working to improve the Katahdin sheep through crossbreeding, while maintaining a high level of parasite resistance within the ewe flock.


Congratulations
On April 20, 2005 the NSFA Scholarship Recognition Banquet recognized students and faculty for their academic achievements in the last year. Our congratulations go to Dr. James Weber, who was named the NSFA Outstanding Teacher for 2004. Twenty-five AVS student received departmental scholarships, eight received college scholarships, and two ranked among the college’s highest achieving Juniors and Seniors. Two of our students and two alumni were admitted to vet school: Sarah Cady (AVS/SAG/ BIO) to UPenn, Tyler Cote (AVS/CHY) to Tennessee, Martha Hart (AVS , 2004) to Ross University on St. Kitts., and Christopher Norman (AVS, 1998) to LSU after completing an MS at LSU.

Congratulations also to this year’s graduates. We will miss them all and wish them the very best in achieving their goals.

  • Reagan Ames – currently interviewing for a nutrition job with Blue Seal, would like to enter a PA program if nothing happens with Blue Seal.
  • Tiffany Benevento – wants to go into real estate and hopes eventually to own a farm.
  • Meredith Bott – would like to run a shelter in the future and hopes to enroll next spring in Community Leadership program.
  • Amy Bouchard – continuing her BIO degree at UMPI.
  • Roger Brasslett – will be a registration supervisor at EMMC in Bangor.
  • Sarah Cady – working as an RA at UPenn for a year to get residency before starting vet school there.
  • Danielle Denis – training to be a Genex Technician.
  • Philip Ferenczy – unsure of the future but wants it to be animal related.
  • Sarah Fisk- running a lesson program and training horses at Rowenda Farm.
  • Erika Harris – Interning at a Thoroughbred Farm in CA this summer before getting residency in Ohio and applying to vet school.
  • Rose Itzcovitz – interning at Turpentine Farm in Arkansas with large cats before applying to vet school.
  • Trudy Robinson – wants to work as a calf barn manager or at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Sarah Van de Steeg – plans to start an endangered species rehabilitation center.
  • Sarah Wright – has a research tech position at JAX.

ALUMNI CORNER

  • Dr. John Blake (MS, AVS 1982, with Dr. Linda Kling) dropped by earlier this summer. John got his PhD at Virginia Tech. In 1986, worked for one year with Dawes Labs in Chicago before spending two years in the research department at Oscar Meyer working on Louis Rich turkeys. In October of 1989 he joined Auburn University where he was promoted to full professor in 2002. His specialty is in Poultry Waste Management, on which he has edited seven books. He is married with one child and one on the way.

AVS BIOS

  • Melissa Potts has worked for Cooperative Extension/AVS for three years as an administrative assistant. She enjoys this position because of the diversity of tasks and the laid back environment. She lives in Argyle with her husband, Bob and their two children, Emily and Jacob.
  • Patricia Stoddard has been the AVS Administrative Assistant for three years. Her job includes buying the necessities to operate the department, making sure that we stay within the guidelines for spending and making payments to the various companies with which we do business. Pat also helps our students with class registration. She has worked with students on campus for 17 years and cherishes each and every time that a student has stopped by to say “thank you” for helping them over a rough spot or just listening to them.

Thank You!!
Our most sincere thanks to all our friends and alumni for their generous donations. Your financial support helps us expose our students to opportunities that would otherwise be impossible.

Please pass this newsletter to your friends and especially to any UM or AVS alumni for whom we do not have an address. If you send us their address we’ll include them in our next mailing. Please remember to let us know when you change your address as we continue to get 30 – 40 copies returned for every issue.

This newsletter costs about $500 to print and mail to our alumni, friends and stakeholders. If you would like to sponsor an issue then your name, or the name of your company could be HERE.

Please let us know about you. Tell us about your experiences since graduation and about important happenings in your life that we can print in our alumni news corner. You can contact us most easily by email – Stokes@maine.edu.


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