Collaboration Brings Students to Sows

PAIGE AUSTING | PHOTO COURTESY
PAIGE AUSTING | PHOTO COURTESY

Artificial insemination, ultrasounds and discussions on biosecurity were a few samplings North Dakota State students put into action Saturday on a rural North Dakota hog farm.

NDSU collaborated with AMVC Management Services, a livestock management business, for the first time last weekend. AMVC invited students to its Edmore, N.D., barn for a hands-on experience with its sows.

“Our students are part of the future of agriculture,” Stacey Ostby, a co-director in the NDSU Veterinary Technology Program, said. “Providing opportunities to earn internship and/or potential employment along with general networking are always encouraged.”

Ostby teaches Animal Science 496, Swine: Breed to Wean Techniques. She and Jessica Arnold, a veterinarian and production manager with AMVC, brought students over 160 miles to the Viking Sow Center.

The farm, northeast of Devils Lake, N.D., holds 4,800 head.

Arnold, who oversees the AMVC barns in North and South Dakota, said the class observation went well.

“The class was a huge success,” she said. “All the students were extremely professional and very engaged throughout all the sessions.”

One of the students was Monique Haman, a junior majoring in veterinary technology. While the class isn’t required for her major, she said she had a good time, despite the long trip in a cramped van.

PAIGE AUSTING | THE SPECTRUM
PAIGE AUSTING | THE SPECTRUM

“The experience was awesome. We got to do a lot of hands on tasks and procedures with the pigs,” she said. “It was educational and super fun at the same time!”

Haman was one of 14 to go on the not-so-typical field trip.

Students only received the green light, Ostby said, once they completed what’s called the Pork Quality Assurance training, which went over procedures and skills to be performed.

One such activity included aiding sows in labor.

“My favorite part was definitely learning how to sleeve a sow to aid her in the delivery of her piglets,” Haman said. “Helping deliver something so tiny and fragile is definitely one of the coolest things I have ever done.”

Haman said she didn’t realize how much effort went into the operation, either.

“There is a lot of hard work that goes into a commercial swine operation,” she said. “It blew my mind to see how clean the farm was and how dedicated and kind the employees were to not only visitors, but all the pigs.”

Ostby said that was the reaction for which they were looking, and additional plans are in the works for upcoming semesters.

Arnold, who has worked with NDSU professors regarding swine health before, said experience helped students “gain new knowledge of modern pork production.”

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