Nebraska Pork Producers Provide Swine Simulators for Northeast

Haley Bland of Norfolk (from left), Amber Sobotka of Atkinson and Hannah Vokoun of Chelsea, Iowa, are shown with the back of a sow that can be used to practice artificial insemination.

September 22, 2023

Thanks to a partnership with the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Northeast Community College veterinary technology and animal science students will now use two swine simulators to provide more hands-on experience working with swine.

The partnership began during the Nexus campaign to build new farm facilities at Northeast and has grown since then. When the Pork Producers toured the new Acklie Family College Farm, discussions began about how to enhance swine education at Northeast. Northeast Vet Tech Instructor Dr. Kassie Wessendorf suggested the use of swine simulators.

Northeast has swine on site for part of each semester, Wessendorf explained, but not year-round.

“Swine have a huge biosecurity protocol,” said Wessendorf. “It’s shower in, shower out. Getting students out to area confinement facilities is extremely difficult because of the biosecurity risk. We don’t want those pigs to get sick or for us to accidently bring something in.”

The Pork Producers understood and agreed to provide funding for two simulators at a cost of $5,653. The simulators were ordered from Realityworks in Eau Claire, WI, and arrived in time for classes this fall.

“Partnering with institutions of higher education, such as Northeast Community College, is a key pillar of our ongoing strategic plan at the Nebraska Pork Producers Association,” said Mark Wright, president of the Association. “Such institutions are educating the youth who will lead the next generation of Nebraska agriculture.”

Wessendorf said the simulators give students the opportunity to practice and become comfortable with procedures before working on live animals. “If you are trying to teach someone for the first time,” she said, “and they have a piglet that is squirming and screaming, it’s very intimidating.”

Wessendorf said one of the simulators is a swine litter processing kit that includes four piglets with interchangeable parts.

“We can clip eye teeth,” she explained. “We can clip or dock tails and notch ears. We can actually castrate these little piglets. Students learn on a cooperative patient before having to deal with a squirming, squealing piglet.”

The other simulator is a swine breeder artificial insemination unit. Wessendorf said it is just the back end of a sow with two interchangeable reproductive tracks.

One track helps students learn to AI – artificially inseminate. “This is fantastic,” Wessendorf said. “When we practice on our gilts – young sows that haven’t had a litter – they are loud and they move a bit. This is a great way for students to learn technique and get comfortable with the procedure before they actually go out and do this on live animals.”

The other track mimics birth, allowing students to practice assisting with a difficult birth, something they might have to do if they are working in a swine facility.

“The models are extremely lifelike,” Wessendorf said. “Realityworks uses a lot of silicone so the models have the feel and look of real skin.”

“This is a great way for students to get their feet wet and get interested in swine without having to risk the health of the other animals,” Wessendorf said. “The simulators will be used by students in the vet tech, animal science, and other programs and be available for producer education, too.”

The swine simulators join a growing group of animal models available for Northeast vet tech and animal science students. Other simulators include a calf, cow OB, bovine head and neck, equine head and neck, several CPR dogs, and Diesel, a robotic mannequin dog that breaths, barks, bloats and bleeds. Students also use multiple artificial limbs for radiographs and there is an artificial horse leg for wrapping.

“We really want to thank the Nebraska Pork Producers for their generous donation,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, Northeast vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “Their contribution has provided cutting edge technology to train the employees needed by the pork industry.”

For more information on how you, your company or organization can partner with Northeast to provide learning opportunities for students, email or call 402-844-7240.

Original Article by Northeast Community College