SowBridge, the distance educational series for those who work with sows, boars and piglets, and with genetic and reproductive issues, begins its next program year in February, and registration is now underway. This low-tech opportunity pairs electronically provided materials with live presentations via teleconference. Suggestions from past participants help with planning the next year's topics and speakers, and maintain the program's value, according to Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist.
"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 says. "SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions."
Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said registration cost remains at $200 for the first registration from an entity, and each subsequent registration from the same entity is half that amount.
"We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers," Stalder says. "By maintaining this lower registration fee set last year, we hope more people will be able to take part."
SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets. Sessions are typically scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month but occasionally may be moved a week to avoid interference with national industry events or holidays.
"With the live phone presentation and slideshow available on their computer or other device, participants can take part from anywhere without needing internet access," Stalder says.
The distance learning approach allows people to take part without having to travel, take time from work or worry about weather conditions. During each session, participants can ask questions of the industry expert presenter and discuss with other participants from the comfort of their home, office or swine unit.
Before each session, participants receive a link to download the presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session to listen to the presenter while following the presentation file on their own computer or device. Sessions begin at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and last no more than an hour.
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. Regardless of location, those with questions on the program or registration 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, this example video was created using the presentation material and audio recording from a 2017 session where speaker Corinne Bromfield presented, "Identifying Scours."
The yearlong program is offered by registration only with a Jan. 15 deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 5. A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC website. Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.
2020 session dates, topics, speakers and their industry affiliations are as follows.
- Feb. 5: African Swine Fever and Secure Pork Supply, Pam Zaabel, Iowa State University
- March 4: What You Need to Know About Foreign Animal Diseases, Justin Brown, Iowa State University; and Chelsea Hamilton, IDALS and ISU
- April 1: Feeding Strategies for Pre-farrow Females on Piglet Survivability, Kiah Gourley and Jason Woodworth, Kansas State University
- May 6: Impact of Drying Newborn Piglets, Mike Ellis, University of Illinois
- May 27: Porcine Circovirus type 3: What We Know, Albert Rovira, University of Minnesota
- July 1: Capturing Value of Cull Sows, Ken Stalder, Iowa State University
- Aug. 5: Maintenance of Euthanasia Equipment, Steve Moeller, The Ohio State University
- Sept. 2: Gestation/Lactation Ventilation Do’s and Don’ts, Erin Cortus, University of Minnesota
- Oct. 7: Proper Disinfectant Application, Jose Ramirez, Virox Animal Health
- Nov. 4: Induction Protocol Updates, Rob Knox, University of Illinois
- Dec. 2: Upcoming Technology in Pork Production, Andy Brudtkuhl, National Pork Board
- Jan. 6, 2021: Electronic Sow Feeding Management Tips and Tricks, Tom Parsons, University of Pennsylvania
SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 universities – including Iowa State – from the nation's major swine producing states.