Pork producers with niche breeding operations are invited to participate in the Niche Sow Breeding and Gestation Discussion Group now being formed in Iowa. Iowa State University Extension swine field specialist Dave Stender says the effort is an efficient way for people who work in sustainable pork production that pen breed sowsto connect with peers over a large geographical area. The interest group is sponsored by ISU Extension, IowaPorkIndustryCenter,University of Nebraska Extension, Iowa Pork Producers Association and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

"This series is designed to address specific questions about breeding problems that producers are experiencing on their farms," Stender said. "Participants will connect with others in similar situations and learn from their peers and extension swine specialists. If you pick up just one new idea, the program will be well worth your time."

Producers will select either a Tuesday or Wednesday series where they'll meet three times from noon to 1:30 p.m. The series runs from mid-January through mid-February. Participants will need a computer with high-speed Internet access and a phone line for each session. If that's not possible at home, program leaders will help producers find a computer at a nearby Extension office. The online program for these sessions will call the producer, so no long distance calling by participants will be necessary. Registration deadline is Jan. 11 and is limited to 20 operations per group. The registration form is available on the IPIC Web site (PDf file).

"Homework assignments will be mailed to each participant along with expected completion dates," says Stender. "There will be a list of at least nine homework options to pick from. It is important to do the homework so we can discuss the results as a group and target the issues important to your farm."

Discussion leaders for the sessions are Stender, Butch Baker from the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, and UNL Extension swine specialists Don Levis and Duane Reese. Some of the topics to be covered are pen-mating fundamentals including facility/equipment design characteristics, improving pen breeding output, reproductive herd health and an overview of common reproductive diseases, and production flow and scheduling to capture the value of extra pigs.group dates are Jan. 16, Jan. 30 and Feb. 13. Wednesday group dates are Jan. 17, Jan. 31 and Feb. 14. You must indicate on the registration form which session you prefer and whether you need help

Cost for each three-session group is $20, which pays for all materials and phone call costs. Tuesday finding a high-speed Internet connection to view the program. For more information, contact Stender by phone (712) 225-6196 (cell) or (712) 261-0225 (office) or by e-mail at dstender@iastate.edu.

Source: IowaPorkIndustryCenter