Meat Lab Closed 2/22 - 2/23

The Meat Lab will be closed 2/22 and 2/23.

We will be hosting the Annual California Association of Meat Processors Convention & Cured Meat Show.

We will be back for Sales February 29th and March 1st. Our meat lab students will be entering our products into a collegiate competition against universities from across California. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience we have caused.

UC Davis Animal Science Winter 2024 Newsletter

From the Chair
Anne Todgham portrait
Anne Todgham, Chair Department of Animal Science

It is hard to believe we are already more than halfway through winter quarter, but we are excited to bring back our Animal Science Newsletter to share some exciting stories and news from the past year in the Department of Animal Science. For many of our undergraduate majors in Animal Science, Animal Science and Management and Agricultural and Environmental Education, who graduated in June or December, their first year at college was marked by the start of the pandemic and learning remotely. Through it all they showed resilience and commitment to their education and building community in new ways. Now they are off, making new connections and contributing in unique and important ways to the communities around them. In September, we welcomed a new group of Freshman and Transfer Students and their enthusiasm during orientation was contagious even before classes started. Our graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, research scientists, staff and faculty have all had many accomplishments throughout the year.  If you are an alumni, old friend of the Department or someone new to our community, thank you for your continued support as we build on our strong foundations and reach new heights.

Dr. Huaijun Zhou squatiting while holding a chicken
Zhou wins 2023 National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agricultural Sciences

Dr. Huaijun Zhou, received the 2023 National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences for his work improving the fundamental understanding of livestock and poultry genomes.  The award is given to an individual “who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production." Read More

Russ Hovey portrait
Hovey earns USDA Regional Teaching Award

Dr. Russ Hovey was chosen for the USDA Excellence in College and Teaching Regional Award. This program recognizes outstanding college faculty in agriculture, natural resources, veterinary and human sciences. Nominees are evaluated based on their ability as instructors, educational innovation, service to students, professionalism and scholarship. Congratulations, Dr. Hovey! Read More about the USDA Excellence in College and Teaching Awards.

Ermias Kebreab patting a cow's head
Kebreab named to Climate Action 30 list

Associate Dean and Animal Science Professor Ermias Kebreab was named to the Climate Action 30 list by Business Insider, which recognizes the top global leaders working toward climate solutions. 

His contributions to research into finding new ways to feed livestock to reduce or eliminate methane, as well as exploring the use of gene-editing technology on cow gut microbes to reduce methane production were listed as achievements that gained him the recognition. Read More

Teaching coordinator Lisa Nash Holmes earns Exceptional Staff Award of Distinction
Lisa Holmes in a suit surrounded by collegues

Surrounded by colleagues, UC Davis Alum Lisa Nash Holmes was presented with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Exceptional Staff Award of Distinction for her many contributions to the Department of Animal Science.

On any given day, Lisa can be found on campus preparing and taking down labs, assisting in classroom instruction, taking pictures at an event, or volunteering her time to support student activities. In her more than 30 years on campus, she has also been a peer advisor, teaching assistant and staff research associate. Read More about the CA&ES Award of Distinction.

Marissa Fisher standing in front of a cow
Beef Operations Manager named to Cowgirl 30 Under 30 Class of 2024

Marissa Fisher was recently named to the COWGIRL 30 under 30 Class of 2024. Fisher is currently the UC Davis Beef Operations Manager and also worked as the Manager for the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in Browns Valley. The purpose of the program is to seek out and identify talented women within the Western Industry. The program provides networking and mentoring opportunities as well as promotes the establishment of life-long relationships to empower women in the Western industry and beyond. Fisher will be recognized at the Wrangler COWGIRL 30 Under 30 Empowered Gala at Tannahill’s in the historic Stockyards in March 2024. To learn more about the COWGIRL 30 Under 30 program and to see a full list of the Class of 2024, click here.

Alumni shine at Sustainable Agriculture Summit
Animal Biology Graduate Group alums: Dr. Emily Andreini (Alltech), Dr. Meredith Harrison (IC-Lock), and Dr. Sarah Klopatek (JBS).

Our alumni are making their mark in the industry! Three of Dr. Oltjen’s advisees reunited at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, the premier sustainability event for agriculture and by agriculture, in Charlotte, NC in December 2023. These young professionals are working with leading agricultural companies to improve animal health and production and we are extremely proud of them. Pictured are the Animal Biology Graduate Group alums: Dr. Emily Andreini (Alltech), Dr. Meredith Harrison (IC-Lock), and Dr. Sarah Klopatek (JBS).

Do you know an alumni we should spotlight in our newsletter?

Let us know by filling out our Alumni Spotlight.

Animal Science Facility Spotlight
Kelli Davis with her students in horse pin

Horse Barn hosts record breaking sale

The 2023 UC Davis Horse Barn Production Sale was one for the record books! This year's sale generated over $78,000 for the program with an average of $7,172 per head. The sale broke the previous record for total sales, and the top horse also broke the high sale record at $15,500. The yearlings sold through the sale were bred by and trained by students as part of the yearly Horse Production Internship Program. The 2024 Horse Barn Open House and Production Sale Preview is scheduled for June 22, 2024 with all bidding taking place online. To stay up to date with the UC Davis Horse Barn including our internship programs and community outreach follow @ucdhorsebarn on Facebook and Instagram.

New genetics arrive at the UC Davis Swine Facility

UC Davis Swine Facility received 54 Topigs Norsvin Z- Linegilts from South Dakota on in June 2023. After two months of quarantine isolation at the TRACS G Barn facility the gilts arrived at the UC Davis Swine Facility early in late August. This is the first time in 23 years the swine barn has added new genetics via live animals. UCD Swine and Topigs Norsvin’s continued partnership will allow for a structured breeding plan for a true commercial maternal genetic line, creation of Z-Line replacement gilts and access to the latest industry information in regards to swine production. The first group of gilts are due January 2024. This acquisition is very exciting for the swine unit as we are now able to provide industry relevant animals for teaching and research.

California Pork makes a Splash at World Pork Expo, June 2023

A well-rounded crew consisting of Liu Lab graduate students, swine facility undergraduates, management, and UC Davis CLEAR Center participated in the 2023 World Pork Expo events at the Iowa State Fair Grounds, in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Graduate Student Round-up
Austin Brown giving a presentation

Animal Biology Master’s student Austin Brown presented his Master’s work “Generating an Ovine Genetic Model for Heritable Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension” at the International Plant and Animal Genome Conference in Perth, Australia. This project was a collaborative effort between the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Abstract

Maci Mueller portrait

Dr. Maci Mueller (PhD, Animal Biology) is now an Assistant Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics at Kansas State University. Congratulations Dr. Mueller on your new position. Dr. Mueller also published her dissertation work “Germline ablationachieved via CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of NANOS3 in bovine zygotes” in Frontiers in Genome Editing. This project was a collaborative effort between the Department of Animal Science and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Kelly Zavanti with Trish Berger in graduation cap and gown
Zacanti & Berger after the 2022 Fall Grad Ceremonies

Recent Animal Biology Graduate Group PhD graduate Kelly Zacanti and former Animal Biology PhD student and now Postdoctoral Student Insung Park along with their mentor Distinguished Professor Trish Berger and additional faculty colleagues in the Department of Animal Science and the School of Veterinary Medicine recently published Gender disparity in survival of early porcine fetuses due to altered androgen receptor or associated U2 spliceosome component in Scientific Reports. The published article can be found at

Newly published research from the Department of Animal Science

Dr. Timothy Hackmann along with former Animal Biology Graduate Group student Bo Zhang recently published “The phenotype and genotype of fermentative prokaryotes” in the journal Science Advances. In this work, they developed of an online, interactive tool called Fermentation Explorer.  To find out more about their work, visit and

A team from Dr. Carly Moody’s lab lead by Assistant Specialist Grace Boone published a study which examined differences in cat responses during video telemedicine and in-clinic appointments. Funding for this project was provided by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Maddie’s Fund.

Boone, G., Bain, M., Cutler, J., Moody, C. (2023). Evaluating video telemedicine for providing virtual health care for cats via mock spay recheck examinations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 267,

Other Faculty Publications

Denicol, A.C., et. al (2024). Low progesterone concentration during the development of the first follicular wave reduces pregnancy per insemination of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 95(1794-1806).

McLean, A. K., Falt, T., Abdelfattah, E. M.,  Middlebrooks, B.,  Gretler, S., Spier, S., Turoff, D., Navas Gonzalez, F. J., & Knych, H. (2023). Transdermal FlunixinMeglumine as a pain relief in donkeys: a pharmacokinetics pilot study. Metabolites,13(7), 776.

Roberts J. H., Zhang J., David F., McLean A., Blumenshine K., Müller-Alander E., Kalper, J. (2023) Expression of genes with biomarker potential identified in skin from DSLD-affected horses increases with age. PLoS ONE 18(7): e0287740.

Facility Research

The UC Davis Veterinary Assisted Reproduction Laboratory along with Animal Science Horse Barn manager Kelli Davis published In Utero Ultrasound Diagnosis Of Bilateral Cataract And Hydrops In A Mule Pregnancy: A Case Report in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. The case relates to a rare condition identified in the mule pregnancy of a Horse Barn mare.

Can Science Find a Better Way to Trim a Cat’s Nails?

Original article on the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science website.

University of California, Davis, researchers are working with the Sacramento SPCA to alleviate a near-universal source of stress for cats and those who care for them: nail trimming.

Clipping a cat or kitten’s nails should be a routine practice, not only for the health of the cat and humans, but also to protect curtains, couches and other housewares.