AMES, Iowa — The successful distance education program, SowBridge, begins its tenth year in February. This low-tech distance education opportunity combines electronic materials with live presentations via teleconference, and focuses on topics most relevant to those working with sows, boars, piglets, and genetic and reproductive issues. Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist, said suggestions from subscribers help maintain the program’s value.
“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”
SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets. Operation owners, employees, technicians, managers and technical service providers are encouraged to consider registering.
“People from the United States, Canada and Ireland took part in the 2017 program, and told us they appreciated having the opportunity to participate in these learning opportunities, without having to worry about travel or other expenses,” Stalder said. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow available on a computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere.”
Before each session, subscribers receive information on that session and a link to download the speaker’s presentation. Those who request it, also receive a CD with each session’s material. For the session itself, most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts approximately 45 minutes.
Cost is $250 ($U.S.) for the first registration from an entity, and each subsequent registration is half that amount. Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration, including audio recordings of the live session.
“Materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses,” Stalder said. “Anyone with questions, regardless of location should contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State for more information.”
Hoyer can be reached by phone at 515-294-4496 or email email@example.com.
To provide a look at the content of SowBridge sessions, an example video was created using the presentation material and audio recording from a 2017 session where speaker Corinne Bromfield presents “Identifying Scours.”
The yearlong program is offered by registration only with a Jan. 16 deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 7. The program brochure has details and the registration form. Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.
Listed below are the dates, speakers and their industry affiliations, and topics covered for the upcoming session.
- Feb. 7–Jamee Eggers, National Pork Board, “Common Swine Industry Audit: Updates and Opportunities for Improvement
- March 7–Jeff Bender, University of Minnesota, UMASH, “Needlestick Prevention”
- April 4–Thomas Parsons, University of Pennsylvania, “Managing Group Sow Gestation”
- May 2–Lee Johnston, University of Minnesota, and Brian Richert, Purdue, “Heat Mitigation for Sows”
- May 30–Robert Knox, University of Illinois, “On-Farm Semen Evaluation and Storage” (June session)
- July 5–Kara Stewart, Purdue University, “Intrauterine Insemination”
- Aug. 1–Ron Ketchem, Swine Management Services, “Batch Farrowing: Do You Need to Consider?”
- Sept. 5–Roy Kirkwood, University of Adelaide, Australia, “Reducing Stillbirths and Early Neonatal Mortality”
- Oct. 3–Dale Hentges, The Maschhoffs, "Day 1 Piglet Care”
- Nov. 7–Madonna Benjamin, Michigan State University, “Euthanasia on Farms: A Practical Approach”
- Dec. 5–Chris Rademacher, Iowa State University, “Biosecurity Practices: Before and After PEDv”
- Jan. 9–Maria Pieters, University of Minnesota, “Controlling the Spread of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae”
SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities – including Iowa State University – from the major swine producing states.