Tampering disqualifies champion livestock

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SALEM, Ohio – Two recent rulings and livestock disqualifications have solidified the state’s hard-handed mission to put all showmen on a more level playing field.

After nearly a year of investigation, the state disqualified the 2002 Ohio State Fair grand champion market barrow.

In addition, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Dailey disqualified a mother-daughter team that showed the grand and reserve champions at the 2002 Sheep Youth Extravaganza.

Hard to find. The hog disqualification came after testicular tissue was discovered in the animal on the rail. A barrow is a castrated male hog.

During the 2002 Ohio State Fair Sale of Champions, 11-year-old Taylor Creager’s barrow brought $20,000 from Meijer.

Creager, of Fulton County, also showed the 2000 and 2001 champion hogs.

She forfeits awards, prizes, premiums, and proceeds earned from the sale of her grand champion hog.

However, according to her mother, Patti, the girl has not received “one red cent of that money” due to the investigation, including fair market value for the carcass.

Patti Creager and her husband, Todd, are appealing the decision.

Unintentional. Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey said he believes the violation was unintentional.

“In this case, the animal was entered as a barrow although it still had remnants of testicular tissue. The exhibitor is innocent of any wrongdoing, but the fact remains that the winning hog was ineligible,” he said.

Dailey said state meat inspectors detected a strong boar odor when the animal was slaughtered. A board-certified pathologist also confirmed the retention of testicular tissue, he said.

Ruined for family. Meanwhile, the Creager family has some questions. According to Patti Creager, meat from the animal was released into the food chain, and cooked meat had no boar taste.

“This obviously isn’t an issue of food safety, so we don’t understand why it’s such a big deal,” Creager said.

“This has pretty much ruined [showing at the state fair] for the entire family,” Creager said, noting two of her daughters will show at the state fair this year, but probably never again. However, the family will continue to show at their county fair and national shows.

“There are a lot of crooked guys out there that do things [intentionally] to win, and a lot of people are happy that this happened, and that’s wrong,” she said.

“Sure it’s fun to win, but it’s not everything,” Creager said.

Illegal drug. Teri Shellhouse and her daughter, Elizabeth, both of Delaware, Ohio, were disqualified for using a drug not labeled for use in sheep, a violation of Ohio’s livestock exhibition law.

The lambs tested positive for ractopamine hydrochloride, a leanness-enhancing agent sold under the trade name Paylean, and approved only for use in market hogs.

The disqualification followed a recommendation made by a hearing officer in the case in June.

In November 2002, the Ohio Department of Agriculture confirmed both lambs had been administered ractopamine.

Overnight. The Shellhouses maintain their innocence, saying they never fed Paylean to the sheep. Instead, they believe someone sabotaged their animals by dumping feed into the pen overnight.

According to David Shellhouse, Elizabeth’s father, the animals were not guarded during their overnight stay at the Sheep Youth Extravaganza.

“We don’t know if we were targeted or just happened to be maybe one of many pens” possibly fed Paylean, he said.

“The judgment does not say we administered anything, just that they showed positive for [Paylean] in urine at the show,” he emphasized.

Movin’ on up. The sheep placed third and fourth the first day of competition, and took the top two spots the second day.

“We’re not ignorant about this drug testing,” Shellhouse said, noting his children have shown sheep at the national level for 15 years.

“We know how to feed and take care of sheep. We also know how Paylean works in hogs, that you have to feed it over time to see results.

“It’s not a miracle drug that would work overnight,” he emphasized.

Shellhouse also said the only way he can buy the drug is as part of a complete hog feed, which would cause copper toxicity and kill his sheep.

“It’s ridiculous to feed anything like that, that early in the show season anyhow. It doesn’t make any sense to ruin and cripple them,” he said.

Shellhouse said the same two lambs went on to win other shows after the extravaganza. Elizabeth Shellhouse took fourth place overall in the 2003 event.

Drug testing. Though Teri Shellhouse did not show at the event, her name was brought into the situation because she signed a Drug Use Notification Form for her daughter, who was a minor at the time.

The Shellhouses must return all awards, prizes, premiums, and proceeds earned at the extravaganza.

The girl’s winnings totaled $800, which has been spent toward her education, her father said.

Long time coming. Though this year’s Sheep Youth Extravaganza has come and gone, and the 2003 state fair is almost here, department of agriculture officials contend their investigations are thorough and “due process takes time,” said Melanie Wilt, department spokesperson.

Wilt also said the most recent cases of tampering “seem to be more cosmetic instead of related to food safety, which is good.”

Wilt warns livestock exhibitors to be careful and know state and show rules (see related story).

“This could happen to anybody,” she said.

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



Livestock exhibitions: Take precautions to comply with laws

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – Following the recent livestock disqualifications, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey is reminding exhibitors to take precautions to prevent such mishaps.

It is a mistake punishable by state law.

“Exhibitors and their families need to be familiar with the Livestock Tampering Act of 1995, which sets forth clear, concise laws and rules for livestock in exhibitions in Ohio,” Dailey said.

“Some common sense precautions will prevent exhibitors from becoming the subject of an agriculture department investigation.”

Crack down. After eight exhibition animals at the 1994 Ohio State Fair tested positive for illegal drugs or vegetable oil injected into the animals for cosmetic purposes, Ohio became the first state to crack down on people who tamper with livestock to win competitions at fairs.

The department of agriculture’s criminal investigations into the 1994 incidents resulted in 16 felony and two misdemeanor convictions.

In the 1990s, most of the department’s subsequent investigations involved the improper use of approved drugs, rather than intentional tampering, causing food safety concerns.

As exhibitors become more aware of the law and the department’s strict enforcement, the number of state investigations dropped from 19 in 1995 to five in 2002.

Fair competition. The Livestock Show Reform Act, signed by Gov. George V. Voinovich in June 1995, defines tampering to include injection or administration of products designed to change the condition or appearance of an animal.

The law made tampering a fourth degree felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.

It also prohibits sabotage of animals, closed loopholes regarding the use of illegal and unapproved drugs, and created a 21-member advisory committee that meets annually to advise the state’s agriculture director on rule or statutory changes.

A copy of the law is online at www.state.oh.us/agr.

Know show rules. Each exhibition has its own rules in addition to those spelled out in state livestock exhibition tampering rules.

Exhibitors should carefully review the rules before entering each competition. Some state rules are optional.

For example, state rules require that fitters be registered with show management, although shows may opt out of this rule and replace it with a variation of it.

Some shows may also opt out of rules governing grooming practices such as the use of dyes on animal hair.

Also, national breed associations may have rules that vary among breeds of the same species.

Testing, training programs. The department of agriculture’s exhibition livestock testing program watches for the improper use of drugs and other foreign substances in champion animals exhibited at Ohio fairs.

The tests that the department performs on urine, tissue, and other samples taken in the field by exhibition officials can disclose residues of illegal drugs or substances that may have been used to enhance the appearance of exhibition livestock.

A positive drug test can disqualify grand champion and reserve champion steers, hogs, and lambs.

Enhanced carcass inspections of the animals are also conducted at meat packing facilities.

Quality assurance. To help prevent future problems and educate Ohio’s youth on the dangers of livestock tampering, the department of agriculture and OSU Extension established a statewide livestock exhibitor education program called the Quality Assurance Program.

Exhibitors must complete the program before being allowed to show.

In these training sessions, organized by county extension offices, exhibitors learn proper management practices that comply with the livestock exhibition rules and promote food safety and responsible use of animal health products.

Scrutinize people. Purchase club animals only from reputable producers or dealers and carefully scrutinize anyone who works with your animals.

Exhibitors should keep possession of the animal from the time of purchase until the animal is sold.

Exhibitors who choose to use a professional fitter should have a clear understanding of the fitting services for which they are paying and beware of guarantees about how the animal will place in competition.

Working closely with reputable fitters, including club advisers or vocational agriculture teachers, can also serve as a good learning experience for exhibitors.



Get the details



* Ohio livestock exhibition rules and regulations:

www.state.oh.us/agr/addl/rules.htm

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