On the heels of a successful first year, the distance education program known as SowBridge will be available again this fall. The program received great reviews from a wide range of participants, according to Ken Stalder of Iowa State University (ISU).

“People from 15 states and a Canadian province took part in the 2007-08 series, and they told us they really liked not needing to travel to hear from expert presenters,” says Stalder, animal science associate professor and Extension swine specialist. “By combining electronic information viewed on computer with live presentations over a toll-free phone line, people can attend individual sessions without leaving home or their workplace. And Internet access is not required.”

Stalder, the Iowa coordinator for SowBridge, explains the year-long program is offered by subscription only. Monthly sessions start in November. Before each 45-minute session, subscribers receive a CD containing each session’s presentation, plus information to access the live speaker presentation. Participants call a toll-free conference line to listen to, and interact with, presenters. The $250 cost provides access to one phone line and all materials.

Stalder says a single registration can be used to reach a number of people.

“We encourage farm managers and owners to enroll in this program and invite several of their employees to take part over the noon break through use of a speaker phone and computer projector,” says Stalder. “People have told us they like the ease and convenience of this program. For example, one person said, ‘At home, at work or on the road, I can still participate.’ Another said the program provided support, confirmation and/or correction of their operating practices.”

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

Registration for the first program, Nov. 5, focuses on composting mortalities and will be presented by Bob Thaler of South Dakota State University. Registration must be received by Oct. 20. The form is available. Phone registrations can be completed by calling Sherry Hoyer at 515-294-4496.
Subsequent programs include:

Dec. 3, 2008: Proper Euthanasia of Sows and Piglets by John Deen, DVM, University of Minnesota;
Jan. 7, 2008: Breeding Management in Pens and Stalls by Bob Ivey of Maxwell Foods of North Carolina;
Feb. 4, 2009: Crossfostering and Bump Weaning by Barb Straw, DVM, Michigan State University;
March 4, 2009: Optimizing Sow Performance with Rescue Decks by Jon Hoek, Belstra Milling Co. Inc., DeMotte, IN;
April 1, 2009: Creep Feeding by Joel DeRouchey of Kansas State University;
May 6, 2009: Reproductive Manipulation Using PG600 by Rob Knox of the University of Illinois;
June 10, 2009: Reproductive Manipulation Using Matrix by Ron Bates of Michigan State University;
July 1, 2009: On-Farm Semen Evaluation by Wayne Singleton of Purdue University;
Aug. 5, 2009: Induction of Farrowing by Tim Safranski of the University of Missouri;
Sept. 2, 2009: Sow Watch and Piglet Care – the First 24 Hours by Matt Davis of Hord Livestock, Bucyrus, OH; and
Oct. 7, 2009: Effective Pest and Rodent Control by Ralph Williams of Purdue University.