Boar handlers, stud managers and industry experts will meet at the third Midwest Boar Stud Managers Conference in St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 7-8. National and international swine experts will present research and discuss industry issues. "This conference allows people who specialize in managing boars to talk about their jobs and industry," said Tim Safranski, University of Missouri Extension swine specialist. 
         
The conference, at the Doubletree Inn near the St. Louis airport, takes place every four years and draws attendees from across the United States and abroad.
         
Safranski, who coordinates the conference, said boar studs are less common than other swine operations, so the conference helps fill an important gap in the swine industry. "There's not enough research on boars, though it's an important area," Safranski said. "Typically, when we talk about breeding herd management, we're talking about sows. But the boar stud industry is now specialized to the point where boars are housed separately, and not with sows. For those who manage boar studs, the work is much more specialized."
         
Joe Zulovich, MU Extension livestock housing systems specialist, will talk on combined ventilation and cooling systems. Swine veterinarian Darwin Reicks, of the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minn., will discuss his research on air filtration systems. Other topics to be covered include automated semen-collection systems, boar semen freezing, factors affecting sperm production, boar training methods and effects on fertility of cytoplasmic droplets, which is a common sperm abnormality.
         
For the first time, the conference will offer sessions on introductory and advanced boar management topics. Introductory topics will focus on boar anatomy and physiology, using microscopes and how to design boar experiments. Advanced topics will focus on advanced freezing issues, genetic variation in boar testes and molecular markers for semen quality.
         
"The majority of the conference is for everyone," Safranski said. "But the sessions allow those who are less experienced to learn the basics so they can enjoy the rest of the conference, while those who've been here before can specialize and go into greater detail." The conference will also feature a trade show with major boar stud suppliers, and a diverse list of national and international swine experts.
         
George Foxcroft, a swine reproductive physiologist from the University of Alberta, will discuss how current stud methods and artificial insemination practices limit sow productivity. Janice Bailey, an expert on semen preservation from Laval University in Quebec, will talk on the current status of boar semen freezing.
         
Other talks will discuss the swine germplasm preservation program, techniques for monitoring PRRS, and worker safety in the barn and lab. Conference registration opens at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the Doubletree Inn.
         
Registration is $175 by July 18 or $225 thereafter. Additional information and a registration form is available on the conference Web site at http://bsmc.missouri.edu. For further questions, Safranski may be reached at 573-884-7994 or by e-mail at SafranskiT@missouri.edu.