COLLEGE STATION, Texas — 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 2021, and registration is now underway. This 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 Jeff Wiegert, Texas A&M University animal science assistant professor and AgriLife 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,” Wiegert said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”
Wiegert, who also is the Texas contact for SowBridge, said registration cost remains at $200 ($U.S.) for the first registration from an entity, and each subsequent registration from the same entity is half that amount, for subscribers from the U.S. or Canada.
“We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers,” Wiegert said. “By maintaining the registration fee, 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,” Wiegert said.
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. Remember that SowBridge can serve as continuing education for employees and meets this requirement for PQA certification.
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 and while following the presentation file on their own computer or device. Sessions begin at 11:15 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 Jeff Wiegert at Texas A&M University or Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University for more information. Wiegert can be reached by phone at 979-458-6676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 gave a presentation titled, “Identifying Scours.”
The yearlong program is offered by registration only with a Jan. 20, 2021, deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 4. A brochure with information and a registration form is available online at tx.ag/sowbridge. Texas residents who want more information can call Wiegert at 979-458-6676.
2021 session dates, topics, speakers and their industry affiliations are as follows.
- 4, Day One Sow Care, Ashley Johnson, Zoetis
- March 3, Preventing COVID-19 on Swine Farms, Erin Ehinger, Provimi North America
- April 7, Mental Health of Barn Workers, Robin Tutor Marcom, North Carolina Agromedicine Institute
- May 5, Gilt Development, Steve Brier, Smithfield
- June 2, How to Handle Activists on Farms, Jen Sorenson, Iowa Select Farms
- July 7, Litter Size Adjustment Strategies, Steve Horton, Thomas Livestock
- 4, Sow Lifetime Productivity Findings, Jennifer Patterson, University of Alberta
- 1, Pig Farm Safety Practices, Melissa Millerick-May/Beth Ferry, Michigan State University
- 6, Gilt Synchronization- Tools &Techniques, Tim Safranski, University of Missouri
- 3, Economics of Mortalities on Sow Farms, Caleb Shull, The Maschhoffs
- 1, Interventions to Reduce Mortalities: Pre-Weaning, Kara Stewart, Purdue University
- 5, 2022, Sow Lameness, Benny Mote, University of Nebraska
SowBridge is provided through a cooperative effort of 15 colleges and universities from the nation’s major swine producing states, including Texas A&M University, working in coordination through the Iowa Pork Industry Center. Participants will submit the completed registration form with payment to Sherry Hoyer at the Iowa Pork Industry Center.
Jeff Wiegert, Texas A&M University, 979-458-6676, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, 515-294-4496, email@example.com