Pork producers and their employees have full schedules so it is sometimes difficult to attend educational meetings. To address that issue, Swine Extension specialists from across the country developed SowBridge, a sow-focused educational program that people can participate in from their home or office in the barn.
"SowBridge is designed for both owners and employees, and allows you access to some of the top people in their fields talking about important issues for your farm," said Bob Thaler, SDSU Extension Swine Specialist.
Thaler explained that pork producers enrolled in SowBridge will receive a CD with a powerpoint and other session materials each month before the session which is scheduled. At 11:30 a.m. on that day, they just put the CD in their computer, pull up the powerpoint, and then call into a free 1-800 number to participate in the presentation.
"Participants follow along with the presentation on their computer as the speaker goes through the presentation. At the end of the formal presentation which lasts about 30 minutes, there is time available for speaker questions and producer discussion," Thaler said.
The total program length is approximately 45 minutes. Throughout the program year, participants can continue to ask questions or offer comments via the e-mail discussion group.
"The great thing about SowBridge is that you don't even need internet access; you just need a phone line and a computer. Also, you don't need to drive to a meeting site. If you miss a presentation, they are recorded so you can watch it at a later date," Thaler said.
The cost of the total program is $250 which is basically $21 for each of the sessions. According to Thaler, it won't take much of an improvement in your operation to more than make up that expense.
January 15 deadline to sign up for first session
The deadline is January 15, 2014 to participate in the first session. If you miss this deadline, you can still register for the remaining sessions.
Checks need to be made out to the "Iowa Pork Industry Center," and then mailed to: Sherry Hoyer, IPIC, 109 Kildee Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3150. Contact her by email or phone at 515-294-4496.
The topics for the 2014 year are very relevant to those involved with sows, and are shown below:
- February 5, 2014 - Managing Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), Rodney "Butch" Baker, Iowa State University
- March 5, 2014 - Determining When to Cull Sows, Mark Knauer, North Carolina State University
- April 2, 2014 - Pain Management for Sows, Monique Pairis-Garcia, Iowa State University
- May 7, 2014 - Are You Prepared for a Third Party Audit?, Amber Stricker, Suidae Health and Production
- June 4, 2014 - Importance of Educating Others about Pork Production, Jon Hoek, Belstra Milling Company Inc.
- July 2, 2014 - Practices to Avoid Antibiotic Residue in Cull Sows, Carissa Odland, Pipestone Veterinary Clinic
- August 6, 2014 - Advocating Worker Safety on Farms, Sheila Schmid, Schwartz Farms, Inc.
- September 3, 2014 - Practices to Reduce Reliance on Antibiotics, James McKean, Iowa State University
- October 1, 2014 - Making Fixed-Time AI Work, Tim Safranski, University of Missouri
- November 5, 2014 - nducing Sows to Farrow: Pros & Cons, Rob English, The Maschhoffs
- December 3, 2014 - Feeding and Management of Sows in Pens, Lee Johnston, University of Minnesota
- January 7, 2015 - Gilt Development, Billy Flowers, North Carolina State University
"I hope pork producers decide to take advantage of this great educational opportunity," Thaler said. "It is one of the best bargains available."