College of ACES
College News

IPT Bull Sale source for total performance genetics

Published February 6, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - Commercial cow-calf producers and seedstock breeders interested in purchasing a total performance-tested bull will want to attend the 2015 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 19, at 11 a.m. at the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

The sale will be the lead-off event for the Illinois Beef Expo. There are 69 bulls cataloged including 15 longer-aged 2013 mature bulls and 54 yearlings. A breakdown of the breeds includes 32 Angus, 32 Simmental and SimAngus, and 5 Polled Hereford.

The 2015 edition will be the 47th annual sale that has featured 4,576 bulls valued at over 7.9 million dollars sold at previous sales, according to Travis Meteer, IPT Bull Sale manager. Meteer explained that the sale order will be based on a “power score” system that utilizes the economic indexes provided by the breed associations. The power score will be calculated on the percentile rank for these values. The economic indexes are $W and $B for Angus, API and TI for Simmental, and BMI and CHB for Hereford.

Along with strict requirements for superior EPDs (expected progeny differences), bulls must meet some of the most rigorous requirements in the industry. “These bulls don’t just have to pass the test, they have to pass every test,” Meteer said.

All bulls must meet a stringent minimum scrotal circumference for their age. Mothers of the bulls are required to test negative for Johne’s Disease or come from a Level 1 or higher herd of the Voluntary Johne’s Certification Program. Bulls also must be tested free of bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) using the persistently infected (PI) ear-notch screening system. All senior and January yearlings must be fertility tested. All bulls must meet weight, frame, and functional soundness evaluations prior to the sale.

The 2015 IPT Bull Sale offers some of the most elite bulls found anywhere in the United States as verified by their power scores, Meteer said. “Highlighting the 2015 sale will be several genetic powerhouse bulls that have light birth weight, high growth, and carcass desirability. Proven breed leaders, AI sires, and legendary breed icons fill the pedigrees of the bulls. There are truly unique combinations of performance, pedigree, and phenotype offered through the sale,” he added.

The IPT Bull Sale catalog along with supporting information can be found online at The website contains all pedigree information, adjusted weights, power scores, and EPDs on seven different traits and two-dollar value indexes. In addition, there is a list of registration numbers for all bulls that allow prospective buyers to print a “performance pedigree” from the breed associations. The website also provides more complete information on how the power score is calculated, as well as a summary of the past 46 IPT Bull Sales.

Online bidding will be offered through DV Auction.

Meteer added that several of the bulls will sell with genomic-enhanced EPDs, which increases the accuracy and reliability of the EPD values. All of this year’s consignors have consigned bulls to previous sales and represent some of the elite seedstock suppliers in the state of Illinois and the Midwest. “The bulls that will sell on Feb. 19 are a direct result of generations of planned matings,” he added.

The sale is supported by University of Illinois Extension, U of I Department of Animal Sciences, Illinois Angus Association, Illinois Simmental Association, Vita-Ferm, Merial, Zoetis 50K, and ABS. For more information on the sale or bulls consigned, contact Meteer at 217-430-7030 or

Inaugural nutrition fair at Holy Cross School

Published February 5, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - Dietetics students from the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition are teaming up with Holy Cross School for the first time to bring a fun and nutritious afternoon to Holy Cross students in grades K-8.

The Nutrition Fair will be held on Feb. 9 from 1:15 through 3 p.m. at the Holy Cross School Gymnasium in Champaign. Holy Cross students will interact with U of I students and learn about healthy eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when they are dining out. They will also have the chance to learn about the benefits of physical activity. Parents are encouraged to stop by the Nutrition Fair from 2:30 to 3 p.m. during afternoon pickup, said Justine Karduck, director of the U of I didactic program in dietetics.

“Have you ever wondered how to increase your fiber consumption? Check out Fiber Boot Camp! Because kids are not getting enough fiber at breakfast, we will introduce new ways to include fiber into a yummy breakfast through a fun and interactive game.

“What are considered healthy snacks? Learn how often to snack and what to snack on at the Healthy Snack Booth!” Karduck said.

“Are lunch and dinner on your mind? How does your plate measure up? Come learn how to create a balanced lunch and dinner plate,” she added.

“Dining out tonight? Have you ever wondered how to reduce sugar when eating out? Come learn about added sugars and simple steps to reduce them!

“And what about exercise? Get up and go to the Get Up and Go booth to learn some fun ways to get active. There will be activities for all ages that will keep you moving,” she said.

Make plans to attend the Nutrition Fair on Feb. 9 from 1:15 to 3 p.m. at Holy Cross School Gymnasium to take advantage of this educational opportunity. The fair is a great opportunity to learn more about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise in a fun and interactive way, Karduck said.


To schedule an interview with the coordinator of the Holy Cross School Nutrition Fair, please contact Justine Karduck at



Darec Edwards
As a result of club experiences I switched to an agriculture major and have loved my decision ever since.

Realizing that after college graduation he would be in search of a job, Darec Edwards switched his major from economics to a more focused degree in agricultural and consumer economics (ACE). He wanted a career that would take him out of the office more, and a degree in ACE would help. His new major would also help Darec make great connections.

“I have met some really awesome characters among both the students and faculty through the ACE department,” Darec says. “I believe college is where you can make the start of lifelong connections, and for me ACE is the place to form those connections.”

Meeting people and developing connections has helped teach Darec how to communicate effectively.

“Through classes and extracurriculars I have learned how to communicate and collaborate with people to get a task done,” Darec says. “I have always been a little shy, but through numerous interactions at U of I, I feel like I have become an outgoing and easy person to work with.”

Darec is the president of Alpha Zeta agriculture society, an ACES representative of the Illini Equestrians, and a member of Tau Sigma honor society. These organizations became the deciding factor in prompting him to switch his major to ACES.

“I thought I wanted to be involved in the business and capital industry, but my mind was not completely made up,” Darec says. “As a result of club experiences I switched to an agriculture major and have loved my decision ever since. It is all about exposure, and through these club experiences and the diversity at U of I, I could explore numerous options and find the one best fit for me.”


Taylor Person
It was exciting to be able to transfer experiences and learning from the University of Illinois to my work with this new research.
Chicago, Illinois

A passion can take someone far—it took animal sciences major Taylor Person to Mayo Clinic for an undergraduate internship.

“I had the opportunity to intern as an immunology undergraduate fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,” Taylor says. “I was on the ground floor of new research in immunology, studying novel tumor strategy through DNA segment analyzation. It was exciting to be able to transfer experiences and learning from the University of Illinois to my work with this new research.”

Back at the U of I, Taylor has also participated in the university’s Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievements Program (known as the McNairs Scholars), which prepares students for graduate-level research.

“I have received extensive academic training in research methodologies,” Taylor says. “In the summer of 2013, I continued my work in Dr. Gaskins’ laboratory on data analysis and preliminary experimental lab protocols. I presented at the U of Illinois summer research symposium, and I was awarded the 2013 McNair Legacy Award for Exemplary Scholarship. Additionally, I was selected to present at the 2013 National Conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.”

Taylor has accomplished many achievements through her passion for research, but she says could not have done it without the guidance and mentoring of those in the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of ACES.

“They’re always willing to talk, answer questions, or point you in the right direction,” Taylor says. “I’ve had many insightful and informative conversations with professors, including Drs. Gaskins, Wheeler, and Mackie. They have given me guidance, advice, support, and opportunities for exciting lab experiences at the forefront of scientific research.”


Beef expansion is under way

Published February 2, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – The nation’s cattle producers are expanding the herd at a somewhat faster rate than had been anticipated. In the semi-annual update of cattle numbers, USDA said that the total number of cattle and calves had increased by somewhat more than 1 percent. According to a Purdue University Extension economist, this is the first increase in the cattle inventory since 2007. The declining cattle numbers from 2007 to 2014 were due to poor brood cow margins as a result of high feed prices and a lack of pasture and forages in the Southern Plains from extended drought.

“There were multiple incentives to expand in 2014,” said Chris Hurt. “These were led by record-high cattle prices, with finished cattle averaging near $155 per live hundredweight and Oklahoma 500-550 pound steer calves averaging $250 per hundred. The other part of the incentive was more abundant feed due to a retreating drought in the Central and Southern Plains that restored range conditions and to favorable feed crop production in 2013 and 2014, which lowered corn and protein feed costs. 

“The most significant expansion is under way in the beef herd where beef cow numbers are up 2 percent from year-ago levels,” Hurt said. “The number of beef heifers being held back to enter the breeding herd is up 4 percent. Significantly, the number of those retained heifers that will calve this year is up 7 percent. This means that 61 percent of the beef heifers that have been retained to enter the breeding herd were already bred at the start of this year,” he said.

Hurt continued, saying that producers in all areas of the country are expanding beef cows except in the northeastern region and the western region where the drought and thus forage supplies remain a concern. There were 610,000 new beef cows added across the country in 2014. The Southern Plains had lost the most cows since 2007 and are now the strongest region to rebuild. The Southern Plains expanded their cow numbers by 375,000 head in 2014, representing about 60 percent of the country’s expansion. Texas cow numbers were up 270,000 head (7 percent), and Oklahoma cow numbers were up 105,000 head (6 percent).

The western Corn Belt added 96,000 cows, led by Missouri with 61,000 cows, and Iowa with 25,000 cows. The Central Plains were led by Kansas with 63,000 new cows and by Colorado with 35,000 new cows. Eastern Corn Belt beef cow numbers expanded by 3 percent (40,000 cows), and the southeastern United States added 32,000 head. 

“Although producers expanded cow numbers more than expected in 2014, the expansion of the beef herd is likely to continue for multiple years,” Hurt said. “It’s common for the beef herd to be in expansion for four to six years. With 2014 registering as the first year of expansion, expansion could continue through most of this decade. If so, peak beef production on this cycle would not be expected until early in the next decade.”

Dairy cow numbers were up 1 percent, and the number of dairy heifers being held back to enter the herd were also up 1 percent. The 2014 calf crop was larger than anticipated as the calving rate of 88.5 percent of total cow numbers at the start of 2014 was the highest in a number of years. This larger-than-expected pool of calves will increase slaughter supplies, especially late in 2015 and into 2016. 

According to Hurt, beef supplies in 2015 may not be down as much as the nearly 2 percent USDA has been anticipating due to the larger calf crop and to anticipated heavier marketing weights this year. Most recently, in December and January, marketing weights have been up 1 to 2 percent. With feed prices in 2015 expected to be the lowest in five years, those higher weights will likely continue and beef supplies for 2015 could be in a range from down 1 percent to up 1 percent.

“Beef will face strong competition from higher supplies of competitive meats in 2015, where poultry supplies could be 3 percent higher and pork 4 to 5 percent higher,” Hurt said. “On the other hand, beef demand should benefit from moderate growth in consumer incomes and from lower fuel prices.”

Hurt said that, with beef supplies not much changed in 2015, one might anticipate prices to be near the $155 finished cattle price for 2014. However, 2014 was an exceptional year, and meat prices in general may be lower. Currently, futures markets are heavily discounting cash cattle prices, suggesting 2015 average finished cattle prices in the higher $140s.

“However, I expect finished cattle prices to average $150 to $157 in 2015, with prices in early spring in the upper $150s and the lower $160s, falling to near $150 in summer and then end the year in the mid-$150s,” Hurt said.  “Given the uncertainties in the United States and world economies, concerns about commodity deflation, an unusually high-priced year in 2014, and a period of rapidly rising, competitive meat supplies, it seems like a time of caution for beef market participants,” he said. 


U of I study describes behaviors, preferences of picky eaters

Published February 2, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Although there’s no scientific definition of picky eating, parents say they know it when they see it. Now a University of Illinois study shows that picky eaters do exhibit definable preferences and mealtime behaviors.

Why is this important? “If we better understand the behaviors that parents associate with picky eating, we can develop specific recommendations targeted at those behaviors. Not all picky eaters are created equal,” said Sharon Donovan, a U of I professor of nutrition.

The new study showed that kids deemed picky eaters by their parents did react differently to common foods and behaved differently at mealtime than kids whose parents said their kids weren’t choosy. The differences were significant and occurred across 16 assessed behaviors, according to U of I sensory scientist Soo-Yeun Lee.

The two-week study investigated differences in picky eaters’ and non-picky eaters’ behaviors and food selections. Parents of 170 two- to four-year-olds observed their children’s responses to five standardized meals brought into participants’ homes, evaluating their behavior in real time, not from memory. At the beginning of the study, 83 children were described by their parents as picky eaters; 87 children were not.

Significant differences existed between the two groups, with the behavior of picky eaters ranging from simple suspicion of an unfamiliar food to cringing, crying, and gagging, Lee said.

“Non-picky eaters on average were perceived by their parents to have consumed more of the meal and had higher acceptance scores for most of the foods evaluated. They also displayed significantly fewer negative behaviors—they were more ‘willing to come to the table to eat’ and ‘participate in mealtime conversation,’” she said.

Lee explained that picky eaters can be divided into four groups: (1) Sensory-Dependent Eaters, who reject a food because it’s mushy, slippery, bitter, or lumpy; (2) Behavioral Responders, who cringe or gag when food’s not prepared in the “right” way or refuse to come to the table at mealtime; (3) Preferential Eaters, who won’t try new foods and avoid foods that are mixed or have complex ingredients; and (4) General Perfectionists (by far the largest group), who have very specific needs, little variety in their diet, and may insist that foods not touch each other.

Are there strategies parents can use to broaden their child’s eating horizons? “A parent’s response to pickiness can determine how bad the behavior will be and how long it will persist. Don’t let every meal become a battle,” Donovan said.

Lee too cautioned against mealtime strategies that may aggravate the behavior. “Requiring kids to eat their broccoli before they can have dessert may simply give the child negative feelings about broccoli in the long run. The child then regards broccoli as something he has to get through to get a reward.”

Donovan said that food preferences are established early in life. “Studies conducted at the U of I in the 1980s showed that exposing kids to different flavors, textures, and food groups was linked to better acceptance of those foods,” she said.

The researchers suggest serving a new item with a food the child likes and taking apart combined foods like sandwiches and casseroles to show what the dish contains.

“Some parents give up on a food if their child rejects it two or three times, but we encourage parents to keep exposing the child to the food. Don’t pressure them to eat it but show them that parents and siblings are eating the food and enjoying it,” Donovan said.

Also, realize that a certain amount of this behavior can be attributed to a toddler’s developmental stage, Donovan said.

“Picky eating peaks between two and three, and at this age, children simply don’t like new things. They’re afraid of strangers, and they’re also less accepting of new foods,” she said.

Lee added, “There’s a continuum here, and one parent may deem a certain behavior picky while another parent would not. When you slot your child into a negative category, the way you approach that issue is so different than if you accept the behavior as part of the child’s normal development.”

Although picky eating behaviors are not the same in each child, the study suggests that patterns are emerging that can be used to characterize different types of picky eaters. The researchers’ long-term goal is to develop specific strategies for the different types of behaviors for parents to try, Donovan explained.

“In the meantime, trust your child’s ability to eat what and how much they need,” she added. “The best thing parents can do is be gatekeepers over what food comes into the house, then let the child decide what she is going to consume, and allow for the occasional treat.”

“Mealtime Behaviors and Food Consumption of Perceived Picky and Nonpicky Eaters through Home Use Test” appears in the November 2014 issue of the Journal of Food Science. The U of I’s Mandy Boquin, Sarah Smith-Simpson, Sharon M. Donovan, and Soo-Yeun Lee co-authored the article.

“Defining Perceptions of Picky Eating Obtained through Focus Groups and Conjoint Analysis” describes the development of the scientists’ classification method for picky eaters and was published in the Journal of Sensory Studies. Co-authors are Mandy M. Boquin, Sharon M. Donovan, and Soo-Yeun Lee of the U of I and Howard R. Moskowitz of Moskowitz Jacobs Inc., White Plains, N.Y. 

Funding was provided by Nestlé/Gerber Nutrition and the U of I Family Resiliency Center’s Food and Family Program supported by the Christopher Family Foundation.


Saddleseat is a riding discipline that emphasizes both horsemanship and showmanship. Our club offers many opportunities for members to get involved and meet other Saddleseat enthusiasts. We represent University of Illinois in the Intercollegiate Saddleseat Riding Association, where we ride in shows across the country. Although we are primarily a Saddleseat club, we welcome riders of all disciplines and riding backgrounds--beginner or advanced!

New research will help improve grain storage in India

Published January 29, 2015
Data acquisition from hermetic silo bag
Sunil Kumar, a graduate student at HAU, is shown uploading data from a hermetic silo bag.

URBANA, Ill. - A small research study could yield big results for the agriculture industry in India. Kent Rausch, an associate professor in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) worked with Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) on a limited study to determine quality changes in wheat stored in hermetic silo bags. The study was funded by the Archer Daniels Midland Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss.

Wheat stored in the more conventional metal bins and jute bags typically used for storage was also analyzed. Because high temperatures and high humidity in some of the main crop production areas of India promote microbial and insect proliferation in food grain, metal bins and jute bags are often ineffective and unsafe. An estimated 7 to 15 percent of grains are damaged due to moisture, insects, rodents, and fungi.

Faculty and students from HAU worked in collaboration with Rausch and ABE researchers Vijay Singh, Grace Danao, and Marvin Paulsen. The study was conducted in a lab on the campus of HAU. Haibo Huang, a postdoctoral research associate in ABE, met with the HAU collaborators in New Delhi to go through the research plan in detail.

Twenty jute bags, two metal storage bins, and four hermetic silo bags were used in the study. Each jute bag held 100 kilograms of grain, and the bags were stored in two stacks of 10. In the jute-bag stacks, sensors were installed in the upper, middle, and bottom bags. Each storage bin and each silo bag held one ton of grain. Sensors were installed in three different positons in every bin and silo bag – upper, middle, and bottom layers. In all the storage units, temperature and relative humidity were measured every hour, and each sensor was connected to a USB cable so recorded data could be downloaded to a laptop. Wheat samples were collected at the beginning of the experiment and at one-month intervals thereafter.

“Insects and mold are the two major problems in grain storage,” said Rausch. “Insects have easy access to the metal bins and jute bags. We actually introduced insects into all of the silo bag treatments. We also wanted to test for differences in moisture content so the grains in the metal bins, jute bags, and two of the silo bags were at 12 percent moisture content. The grain in the other two silo bags had 14 percent moisture content.”

The silo bags were the clear winners in the study, said Rausch. “Because they’re hermetically sealed, air can’t circulate. The grain naturally respires and gives off CO2, which kills insects and prevents mold.

“The researchers knew the exact species and numbers of insects introduced, and they came back at different intervals to evaluate for the various life stages of the insect—egg, larvae, and adult,” he continued. “Insects fared pretty well in the jute bags, and even in the metallic bins, because they weren’t air tight. But there was nothing in the silo bags; all the insects died.”

Rausch noted that the moisture content did not prove to be a problem. “If the grain is too dry, it doesn’t respire and it doesn’t make its own C02 so it’s not protected. That’s why we tested it at two different moisture levels. Both worked reasonably well.”

Rausch said when they visited HAU for a follow-up meeting, it was noted that the hermetic silo bags could also be used to store mustard seed, a high-value crop in India. “So we have another application that should probably be evaluated. These bags could also be used for rice or just about any crop that respires. Now we need to determine if they are cost effective and look at some of the other pluses and minuses.”

Rausch said he believes ADM has a strong interest in continuing the study. “We need to move off the campus to surrounding villages and start showing how the silo bag could work for smallholder farmers and villages.” 

News Source:

Kent Rausch, 217-265-0687

News Writer:

Leanne Lucas, 217-244-9085
Shelby Cooper
Downs, Illinois

The University of Illinois and the College of ACES offer an abundance of opportunities to students, and Shelby Cooper is one who takes advantage of them. 

Shelby, an agricultural leadership and science education major, is a campus ambassador for the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) organization, whose mission is to support outstanding college men and women preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry. As a campus ambassador, Shelby communicates with students at the U of I and Illinois State University about the opportunities available to them through AFA. 

“I am the primary contact for all of the U of I students who attend the AFA leaders conference,” Shelby says. “My responsibilities include hosting meetings and professional development webinars and promoting AFA on my campus.”

Shelby loves the time she spends with AFA, and she believes it has truly prepared her for her future.

“My experiences with AFA have enhanced my communication skills and leadership potential,” Shelby says. “Applying for a leadership position and working with other top students in agriculture puts me out of my comfort zone, and I’ve learned that I can succeed at something if I work towards it. I am so thankful that U of I, through connecting me with AFA, gave me the opportunity to attend leaders conference my freshman year and has helped me grow since then.”

Overall, AFA has been an incredible experience for Shelby, and her most memorable thus far.

“When I was a freshman, the College of ACES sponsored my trip to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the AFA leaders conference,” Shelby says. “I fell for the culture created by this organization, and now I hold a leadership position alongside other incredible students. Twenty-five students play a large part in planning a conference for 600 of the country’s brightest agriculture students. As a campus ambassador for U of I, I am able to connect with so many students and help them expand their leadership potential in the College of ACES.”


Lanae Ringler
Being president has taught me to be organized and prepared for any situations that arise.
Mt. Auburn, IL

Getting involved with Field and Furrow was a no-brainer for crop sciences major Lanae Ringler. The club has a strong reputation for great networking and leadership opportunities.

“Field and Furrow promotes all aspects of agronomy, so activities range from meeting with different people in the industry to volunteering with the local FFA agronomy practice,” Lanae says. “The club is also part of the national organization of Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences, so there are opportunities to network not only with local companies, but nationally as well.”

Serving as Field and Furrow president helped prepare Lanae for her future.

“Being president has taught me to be organized and prepared for any situations that arise,” Lanae says. “I have learned important interviewing skills by meeting new people, who ranged from World Food Prize winners to company heads to other students.”

Graduating from the University of Illinois will be exciting for Lanae, but also bittersweet, knowing she won’t be attending Field and Furrow events again.

“When attending the national meetings, I get to spend 4 or 5 days with motivated and passionate club members while learning about agriculture practices from all over the country,” Lanae says. “I can always rely on these friends to attend every event with a smile and a positive attitude that can make any activity even more fun.”