Champion market hogs’ drug tests raise red flags

0
273

SALEM, Ohio – One local county fair livestock champion project exhibitor is smiling again after having her name cleared from a possible showring cheater’s list.

However, one other county champion’s exhibitor is still struggling to maintain her reputation and get to the bottom of a situation that may never be resolved.

The grand champion hogs in Mahoning and Summit counties raised red flags on their initial drug tests, administered by fair veterinarians after each was named champion.

Those red flags only fueled the fires of other exhibitors, parents, and fairgoers quick to form conclusions and sparked rumors of cheating across the Farm and Dairy community.

Cleared. According to Mahoning County junior fair manager Kimberly Moff, that county’s champion hog initially threw a positive result in the first round of drug testing.

That hog stayed behind after 180 other projects left the grounds and were shipped to slaughter as it awaited results of a second, more in-depth test, she said.

The hog was cleared of any suspicion by a second round of tests, according to Melanie Wilt, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

All county fair champions and reserve champions are tested as part of standard procedure adopted by the state.

The right way. It turns out that Amanda Smith’s hog had been treated at home for pneumonia the week prior to the fair, according to the girl’s mother, Shelly.

While the antibiotic’s label was followed and enough time for withdrawal was given to ensure food safety, traces of the drug still showed up and alerted fair officials, Moff said.

To Smith’s benefit, she had listed the antibiotic used to treat her hog on the required Drug Use Notification Form filled out on fair entry day.

“With that, things were on the up and up and we could see what threw up the red flag,” Moff said.

“It was all documented as to how that hog was treated,” she said.

So important. Moff said she didn’t believe Smith’s father, Roy, also a club pig breeder, would jeopardize his reputation or his daughter’s win by doing something illegal, and was relieved to fall back on the girl’s notification form, filled out completely and accurately.

“Too many times [exhibitors] forget or don’t think it’s important enough to include every little thing” on the drug form, Moff said.

“But it’s so important. In this case when those red flags went up, we could look back [at the Drug Use Notification Form] and knew immediately what we were dealing with,” she said.

‘Fine with it.’ For the family, the news of the positive result wasn’t much to get excited about.

While her parents withheld the news until two days after the fair was over, Amanda Smith was “fine with it” and “could have cared less” when she found out, according to her mother.

“Amanda knew her pig had been sick and we had treated it. But she also knew she hadn’t done anything wrong,” Shelly Smith said.

Still searching. Things still aren’t clear in Summit County, and one young 4-H’er is still struggling to figure out how her champion hog tested positive for Paylean.

Paylean is a feed additive, available premixed in several brands of show feeds or alone for use in on-farm feed mixing, that claims to increase average daily gain, feed efficiency and lean yield percentage. It works by causing the hog’s metabolism to shift nutrients from fat to muscle growth.

The additive is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in swine and is completely legal in Ohio.

However, junior fair swine club advisers in Summit County met with the county’s fair board last May and voted not to allow members to feed the supplement, according to Elizabeth Hale, secretary-treasurer for county’s agricultural society.

Still, urine collected the day after the show from Alisa Shenigo’s champion hog showed traces of the drug.

‘We didn’t do it.’ The Shenigo family maintains its innocence in feeding the supplement, Hale said, noting the family provided feed labels, feed purchase records and information on Paylean to the fair board.

“We haven’t done anything wrong. How the Paylean got there, we’ll never know, but it’s caused a lot of turmoil,” said Susie Shenigo, Alisa’s mother.

In addition, the man who butchered the hog said that “from his experience, his opinion was that the meat from the grand champion hog did not show evidence that the hog was fed Paylean,” according to a letter issued to the Shenigo’s 4-H club from the fair board.

“We’ve accepted their word that they didn’t do this, but we’re still questioning just what happened,” Hale said.

Suspicions. After ruling out contaminated feed, the fair board is speculating another 4-H member or fairgoer sabotaged the project.

“It was our most dreaded answer, that somebody, anybody, may have purposely fed this. [Fair directors] are truly just beside ourselves. It’s a hard, bad position for everyone to be in,” Hale admitted.

“If somebody tampered with it, that’s about as low as you can go,” Susie Shenigo said.

Filing a report. Hale said although there’s not much that can be done at this point, the incident will be reported to the county sheriff, who provides law enforcement during the fair.

“I don’t think anyone would ever admit to feeding Paylean to this child’s hog at the fair,” Hale said.

“But the point is that we’re not punishing [Alisa Shenigo] for this incident,” she said.

Hale also said that in light of this incident, the fair board and 4-H advisers would meet and rule on the use of Paylean for the 2004 show.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!

Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

NO COMMENTS