PIGPROS's Seminar provides training

posted on Monday, September 22, 2014 in News

Training specialist experiences on-the-farm swine industry training

The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases’ (IIAD) Enhanced Passive Surveillance (EPS) system, which is designed to provide early detection of potential disease outbreaks or changes in animal health status, recently entered into its second phase of development. During Phase II, funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, the project is being expanded to all major animal industries and wildlife and at least 15 states in the next three years. With the system developing rapidly, Sarah Caffey, IIAD training specialist, is in the midst of developing training materials for EPS users.

Caffey’s focus is developing written user manuals and online training modules specific to the needs of each industry and group involved in EPS. These materials will instruct users on how to properly use the industry-specific Biosurveillance Field Entry System (BFES) applications to collect animal health information in the field using mobile devices. The BFES apps are being developed in close coordination with veterinarians, industry partners, diagnostic laboratories, state animal health officials, DHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Currently, the project is developing a BFES app and training materials for the swine industry.

“Right now, we’re developing materials for swine veterinarians,” Caffey said. “Depending upon the industry, the main target populations for training materials will be private or company veterinarians, production managers and wildlife biologists.”

To get experience with the swine industry, Caffey attended the April 2014 session of the PIG PROduction Seminar (PIGPROS) in Audubon, Iowa. PIGPROS, which is hosted by the Swine Medicine Education Center in association with the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and AMVC Management Services, provides swine stakeholders with in-the-field and on-the-farm training opportunities.

“I came to PIGPROS seeking hands-on swine experience because a vital part of training is ensuring that you can communicate effectively with your audience,” Caffey said. “It is important to me to understand the language and terminology used within the swine industry in order to create training materials that will adequately meet the needs of swine veterinarians and producers.”

Through PIGPROS, individuals receive training to expand their knowledge base and experience in modern, dynamic, large-scale and commercial pig production systems. By participating in this three-day training course, value is added back to industry stakeholders, as individuals leave the seminar with a better understanding of current production practices, challenges and opportunities in the swine industry.

“Seeing in person how pigs are housed, moved, fed, cared for and bred really clarified all of the data fields that are being incorporated in the BFES swine app,” Caffey said. “The opportunity to take the course is one that will benefit IIAD not just in development of the BFES app for swine, but in other projects as well.”

The seminar, which takes places several times a year, began before participants arrived in Audubon with an online, self-paced swine background course that established a basic understanding of the swine industry, including common vocabulary and production practices. During her three-day stay in Audubon, Caffey learned the ins and outs of the swine industry – from biosecurity and animal movement to housing and feeding. Caffey also had the opportunity to tour a breeding farm, wean-to-finish farm, growing pig farm, truck wash facility and veterinary clinic.

In addition, Caffey received extensive hands-on training, including: artificial insemination, body condition scoring, heat detection, necropsy and vaccination. Breakout sessions with the farms’ swine management teams also allowed the participants to learn more about biosecurity protocols and illnesses like porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).

“Just reading about the swine industry does not do it justice,” Caffey said. “Actually visiting farms, getting to participate in vaccinations, artificial insemination, and being immersed in the environment greatly increased my understanding of how swine operations function. Prior to PIGPROs, my understanding of how swine farms function was only didactic. The hands-on experience I gained at PIGPROs was invaluable.”

Headquartered in College Station, Texas, IIAD was founded in 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence. The Institute focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from transboundary, emerging and/or zoonotic diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. In 2014, IIAD was recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as a collaborating centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction. IIAD is the only centre of this kind in OIE’s America’s region and the only OIE collaborating centre within the Texas A&M University System. For more information, visit iiad.tamu.edu.

Story Credit to: Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases