The successful distance education program SowBridge begins its third year in January 2010.

The program has received great reviews from a wide range of participants and that helped solidify the decision to continue offering it, according to Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science associate professor and Extension swine specialist.

“We asked participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and are happy to provide a greater variety of session subjects and speakers from university, public and private entities this year,” Stalder says. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity not only to hear directly from experts, but to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”

Stalder, also the Iowa contact for SowBridge, describes the program as intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows, and/or litters. SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.

“People from 13 states, four Canadian provinces and Ireland took part in the past year’s program, and they told us they appreciated having all employees participate in the sessions without requiring any travel or other expenses,” he says. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere.”

Each subscriber receives a CD for each session prior to the presentation, along with information on accessing the live speaker presentation. Most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each subscription costs $250, which provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Standard Time and lasts about 45 minutes.

Stalder says the year-long program is offered by subscription only with a Dec. 1 deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Jan. 6, 2010. The materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for non-U.S. residents and advises potential subscribers from outside the United States to contact the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at (515) 294-4496 for more information.

The program topics and speakers for 2010 are: Jan. 6: In Barn Communication Amongst Workers, Beth Ferry, Michigan State University; Feb. 3: Your Role in the Public Perception of the Pork Industry, Jerry May, Michigan State University; March 3: Geriatric Sows: Keep or Cull, Ken Stalder, Iowa State University; April 7: Keeping Workers Safe from Swine Disease, Jeff Bender, University of Minnesota; May 5: Beating Summer Heat for Sows, Billy Flowers, North Carolina State University; June 2: Air Filtration Systems for Sow Barns, Steve Pohl, South Dakota State University; July 7: Timing of Artificial Insemination, Tim Safranski, University of Missouri; Aug. 4: Pregnancy Detection Technology for Troubleshooting, Rob Knox, University of Illinois; Sept 1: Emergency Action Plans for Hog Barns, Jim Fisher, producer from Middleton, MO; Oct. 6: Managing Feed Drops in Gestation, Joel DeRouchey, Kansas State University; Nov. 3: Heat Detection Methods, Jeff Clapper and Chris Hostetler, South Dakota State University; and Dec. 1: Winter PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) Protection, Locke Karriker, Iowa State University.

A brochure with information and a registration form are available on the IPIC Web site at http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/SowBridge/2009brochure.pdf. Iowa residents who want more information should call Stalder at (800) 808-7675.

SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities with Mark Whitney and Lee Johnston of the University of Minnesota serving as program coordinators.