SALEM, Ohio — The Jefferson County Fair in Ohio has canceled tag-in day for junior fair market hogs, due to the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, but they aren’t the only fair considering changes.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus is a disease occurring only in pigs, caused by a coronavirus that does exactly what the disease name implies: produces acute and severe outbreaks of diarrhea that rapidly transmits among all ages of pigs.
Jefferson County fair officials announced March 28 they were adjusting the rules for hog tag-ins for this year’s fair due to the virus outbreak.
All other exhibitors with other species are to follow the tag-in process as usual.
Instead of the tag-in, each swine exhibitor will need to pick up tags at the Ohio State University Extension office and tag his own animal(s).
Along with the tag, each packet will include identification forms to be completed and returned along with pictures and ear notch forms on each project. The completed packet must be turned in May 3 from 8 a.m.- 11 a.m. at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. There will be no exceptions. Any unused tags must be returned or the exhibitor will not be registered.
The change for Jefferson County came after a conference call with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and fairs across the state.
“The Department of Agriculture has been advising fair boards for years on how to conduct healthy exhibitions,” said Erica Hawkins, ODA communications director in an email. “While PED is certainly a concern for the upcoming fair season, the changes that have been recommended are meant to minimize the potential for the spread of any disease.”
Stark County junior fair leaders are also considering changes, but the specifics haven’t been finalized.
David Crawford, Stark County Extension 4-H educator, said the tag-in day for Stark County isn’t scheduled until June, which gives some time for all involved to consider their options.
“We are considering doing something different, but we don’t know the details yet,” said Crawford.The senior fair board will be meeting soon and will make changes in the tag-in and show process if they feel it is necessary.
In Wayne and Clark counties, there are no changes, as they don’t have tag-in days. The junior fair market hogs are tagged when they arrive on the fairgrounds prior to the fairs.
Jeff Harmon, with the Wayne County Fair, said there are currently no plans to change hog rules for this year’s Wayne County Fair.
“Right now, we feel the plans we have are adequate,” said Harmon.
Patty House, Clark County 4-H extension educator, said that due to the size of the show in Clark County — the show hosts between 700-800 hogs — they don’t hold tag-ins. She said Clark County uses a different identification process , which includes more paperwork, and the breeder has to sign off on the hog identification.
House did say many youth are having difficulty tracking down prospective market hogs due to the PED virus outbreak, and it has also resulted in exhibitors having to pay higher prices for their show hogs.
The changes are not limited to state lines. Due to how easily the PED virus is spread, changes are being considered in Pennsylvania as well.
Bryan Dickinson, Penn State Extension educator in Lawrence County, said some changes are also in the works for Lawrence County Fair and he expects many counties in Pennsylvania to announce changes to the fairs or 4-H round-ups.
Dickinson said the changes are still being discussed, and there are no specifics available yet.
He said one concern is that the public will assume they can become infected with the PED virus. He said fairs and public events will have to educate the public that the virus is not transferable to people, but still ensure biosecurity measures are taken so that the virus is not spread to farms that are not battling PED virus.