SALEM, Ohio – Keeping his promise to squelch livestock tampering, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Dailey has disqualified three more champion lambs after routine urine tests showed traces of illegal drugs.
The 2005 Monroe County Fair grand champion and 2005 Guernsey County Junior Fair grand and reserve champions have been disqualified.
All exhibitors denied tampering with their livestock or giving the illegal drugs, according to ODA spokesperson LeeAnne Mizer.
Monroe County. Tests showed hydromorphone in the Monroe County Fair grand champion, owned and shown by Mariah Dixon of Lewisville, Ohio.
According to the FDA, hydromorphone is a sedative, pain reliever and cough suppressant.
Investigation showed the drug was probably inadvertently given through contaminated feed, according to Mizer.
Dixon has been ordered to forfeit awards, prizes, premiums, and proceeds earned from the show. ODA records show Dixon’s sale premiums totaled $698.50.
“All I know is that [the drug] was in the feed from an unclean feed chute where we got feed,” Dixon said, noting she was unsure where the feed was purchased.
“I’m not happy, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” she said. Dixon plans to show three lambs at the fair this year.
Guernsey County. The top two lambs from Guernsey County’s junior show, exhibited by siblings Julie and Ethan Watson, have also been disqualified.
Tests showed traces of furosemide in the lambs. Furosemide, a diuretic, is the generic name for Lasix, which has been linked to other showring cheating across the country. The drug is approved for use only in dogs, cats, cattle and horses.
According to the children’s father, Mark Watson, the drug would have had a detrimental effect on the lambs.
“We thought the lambs were on the light side anyhow, so it would have made no sense to use a diuretic,” Watson said, noting he has never used or kept Lasix on the farm.
Watson said it’s possible there could have been tampering with his children’s project animals once they were penned at the fair, saying the barn was unguarded and 4-H’ers had a curfew.
Questions. The Watsons, of Salesville, have showed several county and state fair champions since 1997, according to their father. The 2005 fair champions were their 19th and 20th wins overall.
“We’ve been clean on everything until now,” he said.
Watson said his children also showed the fourth place lamb, but ODA refused to test it or the urine of another lamb left at home.
“It would have been nice to know if it was something that happened at home, or just the animals that went to the fair,” he said.
Ethan and Julie Watson were ordered to forfeit all awards, prizes, premiums, and proceeds earned from the show.
Julie, who was president of the Ohio FFA last year, was poised to collect $437.50 from her reserve champion. Ethan was to earn $617.50 from his grand champion.
Mark Watson has also been banned from participating in livestock exhibitions in Ohio through the end of 2006.
ODA investigations found Mark Watson provided 99 percent of the care for his children’s’ lambs. In addition, he signed the mandatory Drug Use Notification Form for Ethan, who is a minor.
No hearings. Neither the Dixons nor the Watsons requested hearings with ODA to dispute the findings, according to Mizer.
“None of them were sure how it happened, but at the end of the day, the drugs were still there. They’ve got to understand they’re showing a food animal that will end up on someone’s table. It’s not just an issue of unapproved drugs, it’s one of food safety,” Mizer said.
A no-no. Both drugs are unapproved for showring use since they can conceal, enhance, transform or change the true condition of livestock.
State livestock exhibition law and rules prohibit giving unapproved drugs to livestock before or during an exhibition. The exhibition laws were set through the 1995 Livestock Show Reform Act.
Despite the 11-year-old policy and several highly-publicized and punished cases of showring tampering, it continues to happen.
“And why it does is a big question,” Mizer said. “There’s something every year.”
“I don’t think we’ll ever fully eliminate all the problems,” Mizer said. “But by and large, Ohio is a good example,” of people trying to stay above the board.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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