Livestock, Animal Preparations for Hurricane Irene

August 25, 2011 under CANR News

Livestock experts from the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Delaware Department of Agriculture are encouraging livestock and animal owners to consider preparations for Hurricane Irene.  Updates will be posted here on CANR Connect and on the DDA homepage.

DDA has issued this press release in regards to livestock preparations:

Information for poultry growers is posted here:

Tips for companion animal (pet) owners is available here:


The Delaware State Fair is accepting horses for sheltering during the hurricane. There are a limited number of stalls, so you must call ahead prior to taking your horse(s).  FAIRGROUNDS PHONE NUMBER    302-398-3269  EXTENSION 203

Horse owners with low-lying pastures or barns or who expect flooding may consider moving horses off their property. If you are not expecting flooding of your animal area, or if you have high ground to which you can move your horses, please consider sheltering the horses in place (where they normally live).  If your horses are housed near coastal waters, and you are thinking about evacuating your home, you must call the fairgrounds BEFORE loading your horses.

The fairgrounds will be providing only stalls for the horses that are shelterd there. If you call the fairgrounds and they have room for your horse, you must bring your own bedding and feed for your horses. There will not be any feed or bedding at the fairgrounds for you to use.

If you wish to stay at the fairgrounds, that will be allowed. You will need to arrange your own care for your horses. There will not be anyone at the fairgrounds to care for your horses. You will need to take care of your own horses by giving them feed, bedding, and water every day. If you do not have anyone to care for your horses at the fairgrounds, DO NOT take them to the fairgrounds.

Additional equine resources will be posted and updated on UD’s Extension Equine blog.


‘Equine Pasture Walk’ scheduled at Carousel Park

August 2, 2011 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Equine Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will hold an “Equine Pasture Walk” from 6-8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, at Carousel Park, 3700 Limestone Road.

Participants are invited to learn how to identify various types of forage, such as grasses and legumes, and see a demonstration on how to assess quality hay. Experts from UD and NRCS will be on hand to answer any questions.

Registration by Monday, Aug. 15, is required.

The event is free and anyone interested in attending is welcome. The event will occur rain or shine and attendees are asked to bring a folding chair.

To register, request more information, or for those requiring special needs assistance, call 302-831-1340.


Cooperative Extension Equine Program launches educational blog

July 25, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Carissa Wickens, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension equine specialist and assistant professor of animal science, has developed an online educational resource for the equine community in Delaware and surrounding areas.

The UD Cooperative Extension Equine Blog was created to provide equine owners and the equine industry with up-to-date science-based information, and it offers valuable resources pertaining to horse care, management, health and the enjoyment of equine.

The blog aims to enhance opportunities to learn by connecting equine owners and enthusiasts with experts in the fields of equine and agricultural science, Wickens said.

The blog will include information on topics such as forage and pasture management, equine nutrition, equine behavior, equine health, upcoming events and educational programs. To provide the reader with a breadth of equine knowledge, links to additional equine-focused sites and resources are provided.

For questions not addressed in the posts, fact sheets or links included within the site, a recently added “Ask the Expert” section is available for further inquiries.

Wickens will continue to develop and improve the blog site in collaboration with colleagues Richard Taylor, Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist, and Susan Garey, extension agent, animal science, along with support from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications.


Cooperative Extension Equine Program conducts needs assessment survey

December 15, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension Equine Program is conducting a statewide “Equine Needs Assessment Survey” with the purpose of identifying the educational needs of the local equine community.

Carissa Wickens, Cooperative Extension equine specialist and assistant professor of animal science, says, “Participants in the Delaware Equine Educational Needs Assessment Survey will be asked to identify topics with which they need assistance and/or would like to learn more about.

“Additional questions will focus on the types of program formats and resources in which the equine community is most interested. Participants will also be asked to report on management practices currently implemented on their farms/with their horses.”

The UD Cooperative Extension faculty and staff will use the gathered information to “facilitate the development of effective, science-based, equine education programs and resources aimed at improving the management and enjoyment of equine,” Wickens says.

Participation in the survey will be voluntary and anonymous.

For more information on the Equine Program or for an on-line version of the survey, visit the UD Cooperative Extension equine blog.

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily.


UD helps keep jockeys race ready

August 30, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Thoroughbred racing requires jockeys to maintain a low body weight, which often causes riders to indulge in unhealthy behaviors such as skipping meals or overeating and purging, especially on the day of a race. These actions can be dangerous for the jockeys, leading to dehydration, loss of concentration, and decrease in mental and physical abilities.

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is continuing its partnership with Delaware Park to research how jockeys eat, and creating a nutritional program that will enhance the jockeys’ performance while supporting a healthy lifestyle.

To educate and protect the riders, Cooperative Extension specialist Sue Snider and her team worked with the jockey health and welfare benefit board at Delaware Park to conduct individual assessments to determine the jockeys’ eating habits and create personalized diet recommendations.

Snider and Nancy Cotugna, professor of nutrition at UD, spent six months surveying the jockeys about their diets and the practices they followed to maintain a low weight. The Cooperative Extension team then created an educational program focusing the importance of eating small amounts of nutritious, low-calorie foods throughout the day to sustain energy.

“The healthy eating practices were based on looking at the actual practices of the jockeys, their need to maintain a weight appropriate for racing, and good nutrition practices,” Snider said. “We looked at the literature, especially recommendations from other counties such as Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.”

Snider said members of the board, along with Robert Colton, president of the Delaware Jockey’s Association, and Wesley Jones, a counselor with the Backstretch Employee Assistance Program, were “extremely helpful in assisting us to understand the jockey’s needs and the restraints under which they work.”

The Cooperative Extension team delivered an educational program at Delaware Park in June that brought jockeys and their families together to discuss food and nutrition.

Cheryl Bush, a Cooperative Extension agent, said the event was meant to facilitate a conversation within the family.

“It’s kind of a taboo subject, jockey weight,” Bush said. “We hoped that by bringing this to the whole family, there would be more discussion between spouses, more pressure on the jockeys to eat better.”

The next step is to look at the food service given to jockeys at Delaware Park and other locations and to make suggestions for more nutritious options. A group of jockeys are assessing what foods they would like to have available in the jockey room for purchase during races.

“This has been a wonderful project,” Snider said. “The jockeys are a great group and have been extremely accepting of us. Their job is extremely demanding and hopefully our suggestions will help their performance and overall well-being.”

Read the full story on UDaily by clicking here.


New Crosswalk Installed on Rt. 72 at the Webb Farm

August 3, 2010 under CANR News

As summer begins to draw to a close and classes are just around the corner for students at UD, those taking classes on the Webb Farm will return to the campus to find a new kind of traffic signal — one meant to make it easier and safer for students, faculty members, and visitors to cross Route 72 at Farm/Webb Lane.

The signal is a High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) and is being installed as a joint partnership between the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). The location is the first in the state to be outfitted with this new type of signal.

Route 72 separates two areas of the farm used by the college. Robin Morgan, dean of the college, said students and faculty often have trouble crossing the intersection, which currently does not have traffic signals or a crosswalk.

“This project really belongs to our students,” Morgan said.

The project gathered momentum in 2008 when members of the Ag College Council presented a petition to DelDOT from concerned students and local citizens. They then worked with DelDOT to devise a plan that would make the intersection safer for pedestrians.

“This traffic signal is unique,” said Mark Luszcz, assistant chief traffic engineer with DelDOT. “These signals were developed to be used at locations that do not meet the criteria for a traditional traffic signal. They provide a reasonably safe way for pedestrians to cross the roadway, while being less disruptive to traffic.”

Luszcz, who worked with UD on the project, said the HAWK signal has been experimentally used across the country for 10 years, with impressive results. The device received approval for national use in January.

The HAWK system, originally developed by the city of Tucson, Ariz., is only activated when a pedestrian approaches the signal and presses a button, like they would at a traditional signalized crosswalk. Once it is activated, the signal will go through a series of stages that will stop traffic long enough for pedestrians to safely cross the roadway.

Traffic will then be allowed to proceed and the signal will reset itself until activated again. When the signal is not active, it will be dark to allow traffic to move freely.

“We realize that there will be a learning curve with this system since it is new to the citizens of Delaware,” said Luszcz. “We have been working with the University of Delaware to get the word out to their students before the school year begins, as well as to citizens who travel the road.”

An informational session for students will be held at the start of the fall semester.

DelDOT began installing the system in July and it is tentatively scheduled to be activated on Friday, Aug. 6. Citizens will also notice new informational signs as they approach the intersection, which alert them to the presence of the new signal.

“This new type of signal is another tool that we can use to ensure the safety of our citizens as they cross our roadways at intersections that would traditionally be outfitted with only a flashing yellow beacon or a crosswalk without a traffic signal,” said DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks. “This system has been tested and proven to be highly effective in numerous jurisdictions throughout the United States and we are happy to be bringing it to Delaware.”

If the HAWK signal is successful, Luszcz said, DelDOT will consider using the system in other locations throughout the state.

“We feel this is a good place for us to start with these devices,” he said.

You can read the article on UDaily by clicking here.


August 24: Equine Pasture Walk at UD

July 23, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Horse enthusiasts are invited to attend an “Equine Pasture Walk” on August 24th from 6 to 8 p.m. on the University of Delaware’s Webb Farm. 

Learn about trees and plants that are toxic to horses and weed management options. See a demonstration on how to assess vegetative cover in your pastures and learn what horse owners can do in the fall to prepare for spring. Experts will be on hand from the University of Delaware and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to answer your questions!

NM (.5), Pesticide (1), and CCA (1.5) credits will be available!

This meeting is free and everyone interested in attending is welcome. Please bring with you a folding chair. The event will occur rain or shine. To register or request more information, or if you require special needs assistance for this meeting, please call our office in advance at (302) 831-1340. Call to register by August 17th!


UD Extension Equine Program Expands Under Carissa Wickens

April 19, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Since joining the faculty of the University of Delaware in July 2009, Carissa Wickens hasn’t let the grass grow under her feet. In her dual appointment as Cooperative Extension equine specialist and assistant professor of animal science, Wickens has been expanding the UD herd, developing new undergraduate courses, implementing adult and youth education programs, and meeting with members of Delaware’s equine industry.

About the only thing Wickens hasn’t done these past eight months is to ride horses as much as she would have liked. “I keep a riding helmet in my office closet but there hasn’t been enough time during the week to get on a horse,” says Wickens. “There’s just too much going on.”

Not that she’s complaining. Wickens says that her job is a perfect fit for her interests and strengths. “I was excited to join UD because of the ability to become involved in hands-on teaching opportunities, not only with undergrads but also with youth and adults through my Extension appointment,” says Wickens. “I know what a valuable resource Extension can be for horse owners and want to assist Delawareans with their equine concerns.”               

Wickens has embraced her outreach role from her first few weeks on the job, which coincided with the state 4-H Horse Show at the Delaware State Fair. Accompanied by Susan Truehart Garey, Cooperative Extension’s livestock agent, Wickens strolled the Fair’s stalls, show rings and exercise tracks, eager to connect with horse owners and enthusiasts. 

She is currently working with the state Department of Agriculture to develop an equine educational needs assessment survey that will be conducted this summer. “I want to see what types of programs and educational resources our constituents are most interested in and learn more about the specific issues and topics they need help with,” says Wickens. “The equine industry is very important to the state and I want to offer all possible support.”    

Delaware’s equine industry, which includes race tracks, equine show and competition facilities, and breeding, training and boarding operations, is strong and continues to grow, notes Wickens. Delaware saw more than $279 million in expenditures for equine-related purposes in 2003, the most recent data available.  There are approximately 13,000 horses in the state; the majority used by recreational riders and 41 percent in racing.  

Wickens has been accepted to be a faculty advisor to the UD Extension Scholar Program and will have an Extension Scholar in place this summer to help her further develop Extension’s equine program. 

And Wickens has been just as busy in her role as assistant professor of animal science. She led in the purchase of four new horses, a quarter horse and three Arabians, to complement the three quarter horses and three Haflingers already part of UD’s herd.

She also has assisted with recent improvements to the equine teaching facilities on campus.  

This spring she is teaching Introduction to Equine Science. In the fall, she’ll be teaching Equine Management, a new capstone course that she’ll develop this summer.

“I’ve really been enjoying the Intro Equine Science course,” says Wickens. “I have a wonderful group of 18 students, including a local resident who owns race horses and wants to learn more about equine science.”    

“I served on the search committee for Carissa’s current position,” says Jan Seitz, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension. “I was impressed with Carissa at our initial meeting and even more so now that I have seen her at work. I felt sure she would hit the ground running but I had no idea how fast she would run.”  

Even though she isn’t riding as much as she would like, Wickens is at UD’s Equine Barn almost every day, whether to check in with a farrier who’s trimming a horse or connect with farm superintendent Scott Hopkins.

Wickens comes to UD from Michigan State University, where she received her Ph.D in animal behavior and welfare in 2009. The focus of her doctoral research was stereotypic behavior in horses, with an emphasis on crib-biting, and how to manage such behaviors. She resides in North East, Md., with her husband, Edward, who is a research assistant for UD’s dairy operation, and their three-year-old daughter, Eileen.   

Wickens started riding horses at the age of eight but, thus far, her daughter shows more interest in another farm animal. “Eileen loves seeing the dairy cows when she comes to visit the UD Farm,” says Wickens. “But she is becoming increasingly interested in the horses.”

Fortunately for Delaware’s equine industry, horses are very much on the mind of Carissa Wickens, as she works to improve Extension’s equine program.


Register now for the 2010 Ag Social on March 6

February 15, 2010 under CANR News, Events

The Ag Alumni Association and the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources invite you to attend the 2010 Ag Social on March 6, 2010. Even if you live too far away to attend, we wanted you to know that you are certainly invited!

Hors d’oeuvres and drinks with cash bar begin at 6:00 p.m. with a buffet dinner to follow at 7:00 p.m.

The evening will include a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and presentation of the 2010 Worrilow Award and the Donald F. Crossan Scholarship Awards. A silent auction will be held to benefit these student scholarships.

Arrive at 4:00 p.m. for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dover Downs harness racing operation led by faculty member Carissa Wickens, UD’s Equine Extension Specialist. Carissa’s research focuses on horse behavior and welfare with emphasis on human-animal interactions. Also she is a specialist in feeding strategies and protein nutrition in horses.

Click here for more information or to register. 

Spend the night at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino for a reduced rate of $175 + taxes/fees. Mention “GUDAG” when making your reservation. Reserve by calling 866-473-7378 before February 23.

Questions? Contact Maria Pautler ’85 at or 302-831-0847.

This event is sponsored by the UD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Ag Alumni Association.