April 11-13: Lawn mower tune-up

April 7, 2014 under CANR News

The University of Delaware’s Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity for agriculture and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Club are once again offering a push lawn mower tune-up service on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, rain or shine.

The event will be held at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) campus, with pick up on Saturday and Sunday, April 13.

Over 6,300 mowers have been serviced at the event since 2000.

The tune-up — provided by trained students and alumni members of the clubs — includes washing the mower, an oil change, spark plug replacement, air filter cleaning, and blade sharpening. Service performed is tune-up only; no repairs will be performed and no riding mowers will be accepted.

Richard Morris, UD farm manager and adviser for AGR, said it is a good idea to have a lawn mower tuned up every year in order to make it last longer. He also noted that the event has a lot of repeat customers and most of them are easy to find.

Jason Morris, a sophomore in CANR, said that there will be around 30-40 volunteers this year, including current members of AGR, each of whom will volunteer for a minimum of 15 hours, and SAE, and also some AGR alumni.

The cost of the tune-up is $38. Payment in the form of cash or check may be made at drop off.

Drop off times are from 2 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.

Customers can pick up their mowers on Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. for the first 300 mowers taken on Friday, or on Sunday, April 13, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the remaining mowers.

All mowers must be picked up by 2 p.m. on Sunday. The owners of any mowers not picked up by Sunday will be charged a storage fee.

Richard Morris said that he wanted to “thank the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for letting us take over their parking lot and for having the full support from the dean and the college.”

Lawn mowers may be dropped off and picked up in the parking lot behind Worrilow and Townsend halls on UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus at 531 S. College Ave., just north of the Fred Rust Ice Arena. Look for signs for the tune-up.

For more information, contact Tim Schofield of AGR at tschof@udel.edu or 610-883-0531.

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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University’s UDairy Creamery is a ‘cow to cone’ operation

June 18, 2013 under CANR News

The 100-plus Holstein dairy cows at the University of Delaware’s Newark Farm perform a very important function – they provide hands-on experiences and research opportunities for undergrad and grad students. Research options run the gamut, as the dairy nutrition research program is closely linked with studies on silage and forage production.

But some would argue that these Holsteins serve an even greater good – supplying the first and most important ingredient in UDairy Creamery ice cream.

UDairy Creamery cow to coneEstablished in 2008, the UDairy Creamery produces premium ice cream in flavors such as “All Nighter” (coffee ice cream with cookie dough chunks, crushed chocolate sandwich cookies and a fudge swirl) and “Blue Hen Tracks” (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups, chocolate swirls and sprinkles).

“UD’s dairy cows provide the milk needed for 3,000 gallons of ice cream base each month,” says creamery manager Melinda Litvinas.

The process of getting that milk starts at 4:30 a.m. each morning, when first milking begins. It takes three hours to milk the cows and pump the milk into a cooling tank chilled to 38 degrees. Second milking starts at 3:30 p.m. and runs until 6:30 p.m. By the end of each day, the UD Dairy has produced 8,000 pounds of milk, according to dairy manager Richard Morris.

The portion of milk that’s earmarked for the creamery is delivered to Cumberland Dairy, in Bridgeton, N.J., where it’s homogenized and pasteurized, then made into ice cream base. The rest of the milk is picked up every two days by Hy-Point Dairy, which homogenizes and pasteurizes it for use in UD dining halls, as well as some New Castle County public school cafeterias. The remaining milk is sold to a dairy cooperative.

Although Cumberland makes the creamery’s ice cream base, the actual ice cream is made on site at UD by student employees, one small batch at a time. All those small batches add up. During peak season, the creamery produces almost eight tons of ice cream each week.

On a recent morning, Liz Abraham, an employee who just graduated from UD, was saying her teary-eyed goodbyes to Litvinas as rising sophomore Jason Morris made up a batch of “Delaware River Mud Pie.”

Morris has been working at the creamery since high school but he’s been around UD’s dairy cows all his life – he’s Richard Morris’ son. “When I was little, I lived on a house on the UD Farm,” he says. “I’m majoring in agribusiness now, and I’m learning a lot at the creamery.”

As he deftly mixes crushed cookies and fudge into vanilla ice cream, without so much as a splotch of chocolate splattering his apron, it’s clear that Morris has picked up the ins and outs of ice cream making.

“When I first started working here, I would be covered in fudge or caramel or marshmallow fluff after making a batch,” he says.

But he and the other student employees are learning more than just how to stay neat while working with humongous vats of fudge. Litvinas hires three interns each academic year to work as student managers. Together these managers and their 30 student employees develop and implement the creamery’s business plans.

They arrange for the sale of UDairy ice cream in bulk and at campus events. They order chocolate sandwich cookies and all the other mix-in ingredients, oversee special events, think up contests and other promotions. And best of all, experiment to come up with new ice cream flavors.

“The students have a lot of freedom to craft new ice cream flavors and test them out,” says Litvinas.

Currently, the most popular flavor is “Delaware River Mud Pie,” which features vanilla and chocolate cookie ice cream with fudge swirls. The No. 2 flavor is “1923,” a special flavor commemorating UD’s 90 years of study abroad. “1923” starts with French vanilla (France was the first destination for UD study abroad), complemented by bittersweet chocolate chunks and salted caramel swirls.

Creamery ice cream is sold by the scoop or carton at the storefront location on South College Avenue, as well as by the pint at the UD Barnes and Noble Bookstore and the Marriott Courtyard hotel on campus. And now it is available from an ice cream truck that will periodically visit UD’s Lewes and Georgetown campuses, as well as special events, including the Delaware State Fair.

Or, you could get your ice cream fix by going back to school. A rotating selection of creamery flavors is available in UD’s dining halls. Each week during the school year, students on the meal plan gobble up more than 1,000 pounds of ice cream.

The UDairy Creamery is located on the campus of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 535 S. College Ave. in Newark. Summer hours are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends. For more information, see the website.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Animal Science Club wins NESA quiz bowl competition

March 21, 2013 under CANR News

Animal Science Club wins NESA 2013 Quiz BowlThree years ago, students in the University of Delaware’s Animal Science Club came back from the North East Student Affiliate (NESA) competition without a single ribbon. This year, they came back with 27.

NESA, which is a part of the National Block and Bridle Club, sponsors the event in which students interested in animal science from schools across the northeast compete against each other in livestock judging, a quiz bowl and a paper presentation. This year, the competition took place at Rutgers University. Forty-five teams made up of 185 students from nine schools were present.

Nina Lee, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and president of the Animal Science Club, said club members worked incredibly hard this year and saw their efforts rewarded.

She also noted how great it was to see the younger students in the club “get so excited and involved in the competition. I hope to come back as an alumnus and see Animal Science Club continue their involvement with NESA livestock judging, quiz bowl, and paper presentations.”

After having a team place 10th in the quiz bowl portion of the competition last year, the 2013 UD Team C broke through the field this year and brought home a first place ribbon.

Laura Nemec, laboratory coordinator in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the club adviser who went with the group to the competition, said that UD teams were organized such that a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior were on each. The thinking behind the decision was to have strong teams across the board rather than just one team stacked with seniors.

“The team included students who just completed the Introduction to Animal Science course and have all that general knowledge really fresh in their minds through seniors who have taken the more in-depth courses such as physiology and anatomy. That way, no matter what type of questions they were asked, hopefully they had someone on their team who knew the answer,” Nemec explained.

The strategy paid off and Team C defeated a team from Penn State University in the finals and earned first place in the quiz bowl, a title that Penn State has held for quite some time. “Since I began attending these competitions, it has always been Penn State vs. Penn State in the final round. So to even have a team other than Penn State up there on the stage was phenomenal and for it to be Delaware blew my mind. I could not be more proud of these students,” said Nemec.

Team D also did well in the quiz bowl portion of the competition, finishing in fifth place.

UD did well in the livestock judging portion of the competition as well, with Team C winning first place Team D finishing seventh.

Club members attributed their success to the hard work put in by the team, as well as the lessons learned during Saturday practice sessions led by Richard Morris, UD’s dairy manager, and Brandon Gouge.

“Richard did this for us last year and he did it again this year,” explained Nemec. “He took a weekend out when he was working and came in early on a Saturday. He went through, really thoroughly, how to judge both heifers and dairy cows.”

She added that Gouge, who shows sheep professionally, helped them when it came to judging sheep. “He actually came in and spoke to the Animal Science Club the Wednesday before we left about the specific breed of sheep which is Tunis, and what their characteristics are and how to judge them. Those two really went out of their way to help.”

Stephanie Shapiro, a senior in CANR, echoed these sentiments, saying, “While the livestock judging was something completely foreign to me, I think the mini crash course the Animal Science Club gave really helped us all do surprisingly well.”

Shapiro said that she loved the quiz bowl portion of the event and that she was glad to attend NESA during her final year at UD, saying she’d recommend it to others.

Individual accolades were doled out during the competition, as well, with Rebecca Radisic, a junior in CANR from Team A taking home first place as an individual in livestock judging and JoAna Morales of Team C receiving third place in livestock judging.

Of the award, Morales said, “It was an amazing experience coming in as a freshman and actually winning a ribbon. I was able to learn to judge livestock, have fun in the quiz bowl and have a story to tell.”

When it came time to hand out the overall rankings for each school, UD finished in third place. Next year the event will be held at the University of Massachusetts. Students in Animal Science Club are already looking forward to next year and getting an even better jump on preparation.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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CANR alum Kaitlin Ricketts interns at Meadowset Farm and Apiary

December 4, 2012 under CANR News

Until last April, University of Delaware alum Kaitlin Ricketts didn’t know much about sheep cheese. Now, her job revolves around it.

Ricketts, who graduated from UD in the spring of 2012 from the Department of Animal and Food Sciences with a concentration in pre-veterinary and animal biosciences, is the farm intern at Meadowset Farm and Apiary in Landenberg, Pennsylvania. Meadowset, a farm that focuses on practicing sustainable farming to produce all of their products, is a sheep micro dairy owned by Tom Schaer and Barbara Dallap Schaer—both of whom are large animal veterinarians.

Meadowset sells sheep cheese, eggs, lamb, honey and other various farm products available at the farm’s store. The cheese can also be found Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pennsylvania, and at the restaurants Talula’s Table in Kennett Square and Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia.

Ricketts explained that the micro dairy, which milked 28 sheep last season, has two different styles of sheep cheese: pecorino and tomme. “The pecorino, which is an Italian style cheese, is very comparable to a parmesan, and the other one is a tomme, which is a washed curd cheese which reduces the acidity making it a milder cheese,” said Ricketts.

Ricketts said that while her official title is ‘Farm Intern,’ she has various responsibilities on the farm. “My duties range everything from just your every day feeding to watching to see what the animals’ health levels are, and I’m also running the farm store on the premises so I’m dealing with people directly, selling products and trying to market our cheese a little bit.”

This last part has been the most eye opening for Ricketts, as she explained that she did not take a lot of food-agriculture classes while at UD. “I’ve been going around to local natural food markets and dropping off samples of lamb and trying to make sales there which is pretty new to me,” said Ricketts. “I’m kind of learning that all on my own.”

What she did have while at UD was a lot of hands on experience working at a dairy, which she said was one of the main reasons she came to study at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore so there was no farming background,” said Ricketts. “I came to Delaware because of the Ag school and because of the farm being right there. That was a big draw to me and I started working on the UD Dairy farm my sophomore year so that’s where my interest really started.”

Ricketts, who also raised seeing eye dogs for the Puppy Raisers of the University of Delaware (PROUD) organization on campus, fed the calves and milked the cows while at the UD farm, all the while trying to pick up as much knowledge as she could from Richard Morris, dairy manager, and the rest of the UD farm staff.

Explaining that her original plan was to go to veterinary school, Ricketts said she eventually realized that vet school just wasn’t in the cards at this point and time in her life. “Working on the farm and being in classes like professor Tanya Gressley’s ‘Dairy Production’ sort of opened up my eyes to the fact that there are probably other things out there that can make me just as happy as being a veterinarian,” said Ricketts. “Vet school isn’t for everyone and I just kind of hit a wall one day and had that realization that there are others things that I think I need to look into before I say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to vet school.’”

Still, sometimes working on the farm comes as a shock to her. “If you would’ve told me my freshman year that I was going to be working at a dairy farm making cheese I would’ve said you’re crazy,” said Ricketts.

She said that her favorite part about working on the farm is getting to work outdoors. She also said that she enjoys getting to have her old sorority, Sigma Alpha, come out to the farm to do service projects and that those in the sorority who are interested in pursuing veterinary careers get to learn first hand from the farm owners. Ricketts said that Tom and Barbara Schaer are “great people and they’re very enthusiastic about what they do so it’s kind of hard to not love your job when you’re working for people like that.”

“A lot of the girls in Sigma Alpha are still very much in the mindset of going to vet school so them talking to Tom and Barb I think is helping them figure things out too,” said Ricketts. “So that’s been really exciting for me, the past couple of weeks being able to connect everything that I’ve had in my life the past couple of years.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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UD’s dairy team works on producing milk, aiding research

June 28, 2012 under CANR News

National Dairy Month officially ends at midnight on July 1. Merely four and one-half hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, the University of Delaware Dairy staff will be right back where they’ve always been — hard at work milking the herd.

Cows are milked twice a day on the dairy farm, with a morning milking running from 4:30-7:30 a.m. and an afternoon milking taking place from 3:30-6 p.m.

Richard Morris, dairy manager, explained that the milking is done by one of the farm’s two full-time employees. Ron Gouge, farm assistant, usually handles the milking, working five days a week and milking every other weekend, while Mark Baker, farm assistant, is responsible for feeding the cows, cleaning the barns and helping out with maintenance.

Student workers also help out with the milking of the cows and when asked how the student employees have been about getting up at 4:30 in the morning, Morris is quick to say that they have been great.

“The past few years we’ve actually had pretty good luck of getting students that would do the morning milking,” said Morris. “Usually we would just do the morning milking ourselves, and then afternoons we would always have help, but I’d say the past two years we’ve had quite a few morning milkers.”

With the two milkings, the UD Dairy produces 85 pounds of milk per day, or between 9-10 gallons per cow, which is up significantly since Morris began working on the farm 26 years ago when the dairy produced around 6-7 gallons of milk per cow per day.

Once the milk is produced on the farm, it is put in a cooling tank, chilled at 38 degrees and then picked up every two days by Hy-Point Dairy.

Hy-Point then pasteurizes and homogenizes the milk to make it suitable for drinking, and some of it is sent back for use in the UD dining halls. Additional UD-produced milk is used in cafeterias at public schools in New Castle County.

Hy-Point also sends a portion of the milk it receives from the UD Dairy to Cumberland Farms in New Jersey, where it provides the base mix for the ice cream served at the UDairy Creamery.

Morris’ job also includes helping out UD faculty with their research, specifically the work being done by Limin Kung, professor, and Tanya Gressley, assistant professor, both in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“A lot of time and work is put into helping them do their research,” said Morris. “Usually when we’re assisting with their research, they have a graduate student assigned to that project, so we work a lot with the graduate student.”

Morris explained that helping with the research involves determining which cows the researchers will use, getting the research equipment set up and letting the researchers know what feed they need to use for the study.

Kung said that the dairy staff has been “successful in operating as a normal dairy farm and addressing the needs for research. On a day-to-day basis, Richard Morris, Ron Gouge and Mark Baker are an outstanding group of individuals that keep animal health and production at their best. Whether its 10 degrees or 100 degrees Fahrenheit, these individuals are constantly looking out for the animals.”

Kung also highlighted Scott Hopkins, farm superintendent, Charlie Willis, farm assistant, and Albert Nojunas, farm assistant, for playing key roles in producing forage for the dairy cows to eat.

Farm improvements

During his 26 years working on the UD farm, Morris has seen a lot of changes but perhaps none more so than in 2007 when the farm was upgraded with new equipment including a new milking parlor, a state-of-the-art manure processing barn which includes a 1.2 million gallon manure tank.

The milking parlor, which opened in 2008, has helped to cut the milking time in half, and provided better lighting, ventilation, and comfort for both the employees and the cows.

Gressley explained that one of the improvements to the parlor involves the cows wearing transponders around their necks in order for a computer to identify what particular cow is in which stall in the parlor. The computer can then record how much milk each cow produces, so the milk production is known for each individual cow during every milking.

“The big thing you can tell is who are your really good cows and who are your not so great cows,” said Gressley.

With regards to cow comfort, Gressley explained, “We have very comfortable stalls, and the reason we have very comfortable stalls is they are filled with sand, really the best option that’s out there. The cows really like that — it gives them mobility to get up and down, and it’s comfortable for them.”

The sand is also able to be recycled, thanks to the new manure processing system which separates the solid and liquid manure from the sand, allowing the sand to be re-used for the cow bedding, cutting down on costs.

As far as the manure improvements go, it has benefitted both the dairy and the UD farm in general. The solid manure produced on the farm is hauled away by a local farmer, while the liquid manure is stored and then applied to the UD cropland in a timely manner, providing most of the fertilizer necessary to grow crops.

The manure processing barn is also equipped with a 9.6 kilowatt solar panel system, 44 solar panels in all, which helps augment the electricity cost when the processing barn is being used, producing an estimated 11,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Animal Science Club excels in quiz bowl at NESA Competition

March 23, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Animal Science Club had a strong showing in the quiz bowl portion of the 2012 Northeast Student Affiliate (NESA) competition hosted by the University of Maine on Saturday, Feb. 18.

The quiz bowl took place in a bracket system, with the UD teams competing against 49 other teams from 10 universities, which this year included schools such as Penn State University, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.

The eight students representing UD were split up into two teams of four, UD teams A and B. Team B placed 10th overall, earning itself a blue ribbon handed out at the competition’s awards banquet.

Laura Nemec, laboratory coordinator in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and the club adviser who went with the group to the competition, said that the teams from UD “were a great mix of freshman through seniors and many had little to no experience with NESA previously.”

Explaining that UD team B missed out on advancing in the quiz bowl by only one point, Nemec said that the Animal Science Club members “did a fantastic job this year and are already looking for more new members and practicing questions for next year at Rutgers. I could not be more proud of the NESA teams and Animal Science Club.”

The rounds were made up of 20 questions each, with the teams getting buzzers to ring in with the correct answers. Questions consisted of general agricultural questions, but also involved some bio-anatomy, biology and some trivia about the host school sprinkled into the competition, as well.

To prepare for the quiz bowl, Jennifer West, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and president of the Animal Science Club, explained that the students used questions from the previous year’s competition and began to study them over Winter Session. The questions also helped pass the time as they prepped on their 11-hour car ride to Maine. Another way that they prepared was having UD professors come in and “speak with us and give kind of quick mini-lectures about what they teach.”

These lectures covered topics such as anatomy, genetics and nutrition. Faculty who spoke to the club included Carissa Wickens, assistant professor of animal and food sciences, Robert Dyer, associate professor of animal and food sciences, Carl Schmidt, associate professor of animal and food sciences, and Tanya Gressley, assistant professor of animal and food sciences.

Quiz bowl was only a portion of the NESA competition, which also included a livestock judging competition and a paper presentation.

Ariana Shakory, a sophomore in CANR, explained that the club had help in preparing for the livestock judging portion of the competition. Club members visited the University of Delaware dairy farm and learned and practiced dairy cattle judging with Richard Morris, dairy manager at the UD farm, which Shakory called “a good experience and good practice.”

For the paper presentations, each team selected one team member to give a presentation. The two members from UD were West and Jessica Applebaum, a junior in CANR. West’s paper focused on “Antibiotic Resistance and the Transmission from Livestock to Human Consumption,” while Applebaum’s dealt with “Mastitis in Dairy Cattle,” an inflammation of the udders.

While the team is already looking forward to next year’s event at Rutgers, they also have their eye on eventually hosting the event at UD because, as West explained, “with the shorter travel distance it would cost less and we could take more than two teams. We would really love to bring NESA back to UD — it would be really fun to do all the behind the scenes planning.”

According to Sara Hobson, a CANR senior and vice president of the Animal Science Club who chaired this year’s NESA planning committee, the last time UD hosted the event was 1996.

About the Animal Science Club

For anyone interested in joining the Animal Science Club, it meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Room 107 of Sharp Laboratory.  While the majority in the club are Animal Science majors, that is not a pre-requisite to join as the club accepts students from all majors.

The club prides itself on providing a great opportunity for hands-on experience and involvement in the community. The club members volunteer at local farms and animal shelters, and they regularly have guest speakers from places like Carousel Farms come in to talk with the group about a variety of experiences.

Applebaum explained that she got involved with the club because, “I really want to go to vet school and I feel like the hands on experience would really help me and they bring in speakers from different places, like vet schools and animal organizations, and you also get to meet a lot of people on campus.”

The club’s advisers are Laura Nemec and Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

For more information on the Animal Science Club, visit their website or e-mail Jennifer West or Nina Lee, junior in CANR and secretary of the Animal Science Club.

Article by Adam Thomas

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