SALEM, Ohio – Three dairy exhibitors at last summer’s Ohio State Fair allegedly glued hair to their cows’ top lines so they appeared fuller and their backs straighter, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Kenneth and Kreg Krebs of Wayne County, Ohio, and Scott Long of Clayton, Mich., were disqualified from the fair and must forfeit their winnings.
Style. A nice top line adds style and attractiveness to the animal in the showring, said Kenneth Krebs, a longtime showman.
“I have no tolerance for livestock tampering that affects the meat, milk or well being of an animal,” Krebs said, noting that adding hair does none of these.
He does not admit, however, to using fake hair at the show last August.
“I did not misrepresent my cow,” he said. “She was represented honestly and professionally.”
To be continued. Krebs and his brother, Kreg, of Fredericksburg are barred from Ohio shows until 2006.
The brothers, owners of K-Land Holsteins near Wooster, plan to request a hearing so an independent officer can listen to the case. Exhibitors have 30 days from the notice date to request a hearing.
Long was also accused of the same violation. He is ineligible to show in Ohio until 2005. He has not decided whether he will request a hearing.
The Krebs duo received an extra year of disqualification because they reportedly refused to cooperate with inspectors, said ODA spokeswoman Melanie Wilt.
Although Kenneth Krebs said inspectors did not get a hair sample, Wilt said samples were taken after the show.
Business, fun. In addition to having the state’s high herd production average in 2001-2002, the Krebs brothers show their Holsteins across Ohio and the country. Krebs said they’ve never had a problem or violation.
The 5-year-old Holstein with the alleged fake hair placed third in her class.
Although the ODA ordered his $266 in premiums be forfeited, Krebs said winnings have nothing to do with it. He spent about $2,300 in hired help and showing expenses to exhibit at the fair, he added.
He said he shows for the people sitting outside the showring – to advertise his cattle’s genetics.
“The fun part of this dairy business is showing, and they’re taking that away from us,” he said.
Krebs declined to comment further because he said the case is not over.
Tuberculosis. One of accused showman Scott Long’s biggest complaints isn’t over fake hair; it’s over tuberculosis.
Long, whose home state of Michigan is not tuberculosis free, said he had his cattle checked for the disease and brought their TB-free paperwork with him to the show, as is required to move cattle out of the state.
He said no one looked at the papers.
“ODA should be more concerned with things that are potentially harmful to animals or the public” rather than a cow’s top line, he said.
Long said he saw other exhibitors putting in and taking out fake hair throughout the show. He would not comment on the charges against him.
Last summer’s show was Long’s first Ohio State Fair. Like the Krebs brothers, Long said he shows his Holsteins often and has never had a problem at a fair.
Damage is done. Long is also upset with the way the case has been handled.
Long said he did not receive a written notification of possible charges before ODA proceeded with the disqualification, which the state fair handbook requires.
In addition, he said the reputation-damaging case information was released before a hearing took place.
“Even if I’m cleared in a hearing, the damage is already done,” Long said.
Enforcement. Although Wilt said she is certain other showmen have used fake hair on dairy cattle, this is the first time ODA took enforcement action, she said.
Both the Ohio livestock exhibition rules and the state fair handbook say “false hair” is a “prohibited grooming practice” and “unethical fitting.”
The National Purebred Dairy Cattle Association Show Ring Code of Ethics, which the state fair dairy division also follows, says artificial hair is a violation but does not call it a “major violation.” Instead it is considered an “unethical practice” that is given “slight to serious discrimination.”
Not in Ohio. In the fair’s eyes, this is a big issue and it won’t stand for it, said Virgil Strickler, the fair’s general manager and ag director.
Other shows around the country might allow fake hair in shows, but not here in Ohio, he said.
“The focus is on the show. It’s not a beauty pageant,” Strickler said.
“It’s sad it had to come to this. But I think we’re just going to have to live by the laws and rules.”
Ohio’s livestock tampering rules: www.state.oh.us/agr/addl/redbookt.pdf
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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