Developing a program that meets the needs of modern animal care and workforce standards is the motivation behind Assiniboine Community College’s new swine production foundation program, which will have its first intake of students next month.
The self-directed online program provides learners with an understanding of how swine operations run and goes in-depth on topics such as health and safety, recordkeeping, barn systems and maintenance. It’ll also cover content on production practices related to stockmanship, the science of properly caring for farm animals; pig health care; breeding; farrowing, which is when pigs give birth; nursery; and grow and finish, a special type of pig feed.
The program is a result of a collaboration between the college and the Manitoba Pork Council, a partnership Tim Hore, dean of the Russ Edwards School of Agriculture and Environment at Assiniboine, said is very exciting for all involved. Its aim is to the next generation of hog farmers and swine technicians to uphold the strong animal care standards. Anyone who enrols and successfully completes it will receive 24 credits.
It was important that the college provide a type of program that producers and farm workers could undertake in their own time, at their own pace and in their own environment, Hore said.
“Anyone who decides to take the course has the ability to do it on their own time and in their own way,” Hore said.
Hog farmers in Canada are required to follow a code of practice for the care and handling of pigs, established by the federal government in 2019. One of the stipulations in the code is that pigs should have access to “greater freedom of movement,” according to the National Farm Animal Care Council.
Manitoba is the largest pork producing province in Canada, accounting for almost 30 per cent of national production, and is the largest exporter of weanling pigs to the United States, according to Manitoba Pork.
Everyone who makes their living in the hog sector has a vested interest in animal care, said Rick Préjet, chairman of the Manitoba Pork Council. Assiniboine’s new swine production foundation program will ensure that value carries on.
“We are thrilled to have worked with Assiniboine Community College on this program as we seek to train a new generation of farm owners and staff that will carry on the tradition of being global leaders in animal care,” Préjet stated in a press release the college sent out on Monday.
The program is also one that Préjet has been working towards with the Manitoba Pork Council to make happen for a long time, he told the Sun.
“I’m super excited that Tim Dore and the gang [at Assiniboine] were able to put all this together.”
It’s especially important that independent, smaller pork producers and workers have the ability to get the training they need to maintain the industry’s high standards, Préjet said. The new course will ensure that happens, he added.
“There’s going to be a lot of consistency in training, animal care, and feeding. It’s going to be consistent messaging going out that everyone [will be] bringing back to the farm.”
Assiniboine will be offering two more swine-related courses in early 2023, Hore said, including an advanced swine production program and a leadership program.
“The leadership program [includes] leadership skills, personal development, managerial skills and communication.”
Anyone interested in enrolling in the swine production foundation program can learn more at assinbioine.net/swinepro.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun