Iowa State Faculty Update World-renowned Animal Science Books

October 24th, 2005

The legacy of a California man who authored 22 animal science books is being carried on by faculty at Iowa State University.

Marion Eugene Ensminger had a lifelong dedication to animal agriculture education. He served on the faculty at universities in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington. In 1964, he organized Agriservices Foundation and launched a series of technical agriculture seminars held in more than 70 countries.

A bond between Ensminger and Iowa State University began in 1990. Ensminger contacted David Topel, then dean of the College of Agriculture, to ask if the college would help develop a series of seminars for Russia.

"Russian agriculture was in some trouble and environmental problems were a concern. I checked with our faculty and several were happy to help. Some very successful programs were developed for Russia," Topel said.

After the Russian programs, Topel worked with Ensminger on other programs in Ukraine, Cuba and China. Through these contacts, Ensminger asked if Iowa State's animal science department would take over his textbooks. An agreement was reached and Ensminger's books became the responsibility of Iowa State at his death in 1998.

The Ensminger books, many of which have been translated into other languages, are used extensively in high schools, community colleges and universities. Many include teaching guides and other supplemental information.

So far, four books have been revised and published by Prentice Hall, the world's largest educational publisher. Poultry Science was published in 2003, authored by Colin Scanes, now vice president for research and graduate studies at Mississippi State University, and George Brant, professor of animal science at Iowa State. The book is described as a "unique text, completely revised to include current information."

Ensminger's Equine Science, published in 2004, was written by Carolyn Hammer, a 2002 Iowa State veterinary medicine graduate who was completing her doctorate in animal physiology. Hammer now is assistant professor of animal science at North Dakota State University. Prentice Hall says "you will not find a more comprehensive textbook in equine science."

Swine Science was published in February 2005, written by Palmer Holden, emeritus professor of animal science at Iowa State. An online supplement also is available. The publishing company states "this book meets the needs of anyone interested in today's swine industry."

The most recent book is Dairy Cattle Science, released in June 2005 and written by Howard Tyler, associate professor of animal science at Iowa State. An online supplement will be available soon. The book is described as "extremely student-friendly."

Maynard Hogberg, animal science department chair, oversees the book project. He said the next books he hopes to have revised deal with beef science and nutrition. The Stockman's Handbook, which is Ensminger's largest seller, also is in line to be revised. It accounts for 230,000 of the more than 750,0000 copies of his books in print.

Funding for the book project comes from an endowment left to the ISU Foundation by Ensminger and his wife, Audrey, in 2000. The endowment also finances the Ensminger International Seminar room in Kildee Hall. Iowa State recognized the Ensmingers that year by creating the Ensminger International Chair, currently held by David Topel.

In that position, Topel provides leadership for the continuation of the Ensminger international animal science schools. He and other Iowa State faculty were in China Oct. 8-13 where they conducted two schools - one on swine diseases and another on swine genetics and breeding. In recent years, Topel also has organized schools in Korea, Hungary, Taiwan and Thailand.

"Dr. Ensminger was the most recognized author of animal science books in the world," Topel said. "It was an honor that he selected Iowa State University to continue his books and international schools. The updated books keep the names of our animal science faculty in front of students, faculty, industry leaders and government officials around the world."


Maynard Hogberg, Animal Science, (515) 294-2160,
David Topel, Animal Science, (515) 294-6304,
Susan Thompson, Communications Service, (515) 294-0705,