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Two white piglets looking at the camera

SowBridge, a popular distance education series hosted by 15 colleges and universities from the nation's major swine producing states, begins Feb. 3.

SowBridge distance education series begins in February

Program targets producers who work with sows, boars and piglets

Jan. 8, 2021

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Registration is now open for a distance education series geared to swine producers who work with sows, boars and piglets, and with genetic and reproductive issues.

Sowbridge is provided through a cooperative effort of 15 colleges and universities from the nation’s major swine producing states, including Kansas State University. The program begins its 2021 session on Feb. 3, and runs through early January, 2022.

Registration is due by Jan. 20 to ensure participants have materials in time for the first session, though sign-up is still available anytime after that date. The registration form is available at KSUSwine.org.

“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and this year once again we have a high impact line-up of industry experts from production systems, allied industry and university experts,” said Joel DeRouchey, Kansas State University professor and extension swine specialist.

This year’s list of topics, speakers and their industry affiliations include:

  • Feb. 3 – 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.
  • Aug. 4 – Sow Lifetime Productivity Findings, Jennifer Patterson, University of Alberta.
  • Sept. 1 – Pig Farm Safety Practices, Melissa Millerick-May/Beth Ferry, Michigan State University.
  • Oct. 6 – Gilt Synchronization - Tools & Techniques, Tim Safranski, University of Missouri.
  • Nov. 3 – Economics of Mortalities on Sow Farms, Caleb Shull, The Maschhoffs.
  • Dec. 1 – Interventions to Reduce Mortalities: Pre-Weaning, Kara Stewart, Purdue University.
  • Jan. 5, 2022 – Sow Lameness, Benny Mote, University of Nebraska.

DeRouchey said the registration cost remains at $200 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,” he 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,” DeRouchey 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. SowBridge can serve as continuing education for employees and meets the requirement for PQA certification.

Before each session, participants receive a link to download the presentation and additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session to listen to the presenter 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 and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses. 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. 3.

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.”

For more information on this year’s SowBridge series, contact Sherry Hoyer at 515-294-4496 or shoyer@iastate.edu, or DeRouchey at jderouch@ksu.edu or 785-532-2280.

At a glance

SowBridge, a cooperative effort of 15 colleges and universities from the nation’s major swine producing states, begins its 2021 session on Feb. 3.


K-State Animal Sciences and Industry, Swine Research and Extension

Notable quote

“We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers.”

-- Joel DeRouchey, swine specialist, K-State Research and Extension

Written by

Angie Stump Denton


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.