The distance education program SowBridge begins its fourth year in March 2011, and suggestions from subscribers have improved the program since its inception, says Joel DeRouchey, Kansas State University animal science professor.

“We asked participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and are happy to provide current content on topics that people are interested in,” he says. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”
The program is intended for people who are involved in managing or caring for boars, sows and/or their litters, says DeRouchey, livestock specialist with Kansas State Research and Extension and the Kansas contact for SowBridge.

SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in the daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.

“People from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and the West Indies took part in this past year’s program. They told us they appreciated having the opportunity for all employees to participate without requiring travel or other expenses,” DeRouchey says. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need Internet access and can take part from anywhere.”

Before each session, U.S. subscribers receive a CD with that session’s 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 session begins at 11:30 a.m. central standard time and lasts about 45 minutes.

The year-long program is offered by subscription only and must be completed by Feb. 14, 2011 to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on March 2.

New this year is a special rate for operations with more than one location. The cost is $250 (U.S.) for the first registration from a business and $125 for each subsequent subscription from the same operation. This fee provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration.

A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the K-State website at http://www.asi.k-state.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=235. Kansas residents can also learn more by contacting DeRouchey at (785) 532-22380 or jderouch@ksu.edu.

SowBridge is sponsored by 11 state universities; program coordinators are Mark Whitney and Lee Johnston of the University of Minnesota. The program is coordinated through Iowa State University.