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Kansas 4-H Tip Sheet

July 22, 2019

Taking Livestock to the Fair? Keep Animals Safe with these Bio-security Tips

Submitted by Mary Lou Peter

Fair season will be here before we know it – in anticipation of this year’s county fairs and livestock season, exhibitors need to be aware of bio-security precautions for their animals. 4-H members understand the preparation and hard work it takes to bring home Grand Champion honors. However, they may not be aware that they need to observe some basic bio-security measures.

Why should exhibitors be concerned about bio-security during a fair or livestock show? Unfortunately, livestock exhibitions are a potential threat to the health of individual animals, the herds from which they originate and the industry they represent. At fairs and livestock shows, animals from different species, breeds, age and sex are co-mingled. Not to mention, the animals come from different locations and are managed very differently. This co-mingling creates an atmosphere that could lead to transmission of diseases. In addition, travel, close confinement in unfamiliar settings and other stressors can lead to increased disease susceptibility. Stress can also cause animals that could be carriers of disease to shed these organisms in increased quantities. Also, fairs and livestock shows allow people from a cross-section of the population to have close contact with animals. All of these factors put exhibitioners’ animals at risk of being exposed to a disease.

What can exhibitors do? Here are some bio-security suggestions that exhibitors and their families can do before and during the fair to keep their animals healthy.

  • Work with your veterinarian to establish a herd health program. Ensure that all of your animals are well vaccinated before any animal is taken to a show or fair.
  • Do not bring any visibly sick animals to a show or fair.
  • Make sure all veterinary health inspections and certificates of veterinary inspection are current for all animals that will be taken to a show or fair.
  • Disinfect all equipment such as buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows, manure baskets, lead ropes, blankets, snares, clippers, scissors, brushes, show box, etc. before entering the fairgrounds. A recommended disinfectant is Roccal D Plus. This is available from your veterinarian or vet supply store.
  • Don’t share equipment with other exhibitors unless it has been cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  • Minimize stress prior to the fair by providing a clean, dry and comfortable environment, plenty of water and the same feeds that will be taken to the show or fair.
  • Keep unused equipment and feed bagged or covered to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Vehicles and trailers used to transport animals should be well cleaned and disinfected, inside and out. Do not transport other exhibitors’ animals in the same trailer. Keep traffic between the animal areas of the fairgrounds and the home to a minimum.
  • During the fair, keep animals as comfortable as possible to help reduce stress. Provide adequate bedding and plenty of air movement. Also, make sure clean water is always available and that your animals get the same feed as they do at home.
  • Minimize nose-to-nose contact with animals from other farms. Avoid contact with manure from other animals.
  • Keep wheelbarrow tires, pitchforks and feeding equipment clean and free of manure.
  • Avoid sharing grooming equipment as well as feed and water equipment. If you loan equipment to someone, clean and disinfect it when it is returned.
  • For milking animals, it is best to bring a portable milking machine from your farm. Avoid sharing milking units.
  • Practice good personal hygiene – wash hands after touching animals and before eating.
  • Clean and disinfect all items at the end of the fair before taking them home.
  • Properly dispose of unused bedding, hay and feed after the fair. Do not bring it home.