The 35 participants, representing more than a dozen countries, took part in lectures and hands-on laboratories at both Penn Vet campuses, in Philadelphia and at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA.
“This training is good for the company, good for our clients, and good for sow production worldwide,” said Dr. Roger Guerrero, Senior Specialist of Merck Animal Health’s Global Swine Unit.
Dr. Gary Althouse, Professor of Swine Health and Reproduction at Penn Vet, and Dr. Tom Parsons, Director of Penn Vet’s Swine Teaching and Research Center, led the week-long training in October. Several other clinicians in Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity also participated.
Training topics included infectious and non-infectious reproductive diseases, ultrasonography diagnostics, semen assessment techniques, production records analysis, reproductive herd management and behavior, and sow and boar anatomy and physiology. The course also focused on the economic impact of proposed modifications to herd reproductive management, including a set of “reproduction audits” using recently developed software.
“We have a requirement as veterinarians to help produce safe, quality food for people, but also to help produce the quantities needed,” continued Dr. Guerrero, Merck Animal Health’s swine reproduction specialist in Southern Europe and Venezuela. “We need to get reproduction on the fast track, to have more sows and better production numbers to feed the world.”
This is the second year Merck Animal Health has chosen Penn Vet for its intensive swine reproduction training.
“Penn Vet leads by training the industry leaders,” said Dr. Althouse, internationally recognized for his specialty expertise in swine reproduction. “And that’s what this type of program is about – training the global leaders in swine reproduction.”
Dr. Miguel Collell, Global Swine Technical Director for Merck Animal Health, said the company chose Penn Vet because of the School’s robust level of expertise. “Penn Vet truly has the best and most well-known professors and veterinarians in swine reproduction,” Dr. Collell said. “It’s a reference program worldwide.”
Merck Animal Health also chose Penn Vet because of its modern swine facilities, he said, which incorporate a variety of housing system types and farrowing systems, and include some of the latest technologies in automatic feeding and individual/group treatment, as well as a real-time computerized records system.
“Hands-on learning with the most advanced technology in reproduction, labs, and lectures, is vitally important,” Dr. Guerrero said. “Someone from a 7,000-sow farm can speak with someone with 300,000 sows.”
One of the program’s goals is to bring together people from around the world, said Olivia Azlor, Global Marketing Director for Merck Animal Health, based in the corporate headquarters in Madison, N.J. Participants came from several continents, representing countries including Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
“The goal of this training is to expand and deepen their knowledge base and to aid the participants in realizing the importance of swine reproduction on economics and animal well-being,” Azlor said. “Our goal is that they go back to their jobs and implement changes to their farms and companies.”