5 tips to ensure livestock health before the fair


Show season brings new concerns for livestock health. Here are some ways to keep livestock healthy before taking them to the fair.

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Vaccinating animals before attending a fair or show can help decrease the risk of catching some diseases from other livestock at the event. Keep vaccination records to keep track of withdrawl times and when animals need to be vaccinated.

2Conduct Health Checks
Before shows and fairs, watch animals for signs of contagious diseases. Some fairs and shows require health checks from veterinarians prior to the show. Regardless, do not exhibit animals that show signs of contagious diseases to avoid spreading disease to other animals. If an animal becomes ill during the fair, quarantine the animal and consult a veterinarian.

3Be aware
Some species have specific or greater health concerns than others. For example, avian flu has been devastating for poultry owners in the last few years. Swine also bring special biosecurity concerns. For example, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome can be a problem because some swine that are not obviously ill can carry the disease and infect other swine.

Being aware of diseases and risks for particular species gives exhibitors a greater chance of preventing these issues and recognizing if there is a problem.

4Practice Trailer Safety
Before towing livestock in a trailer, make sure that the truck and trailer are both in good condition and that all latches, safety chains, brakes and connections are working properly and fastened securely.

When loading livestock, remain calm and patient to minimize stress on the livestock and double check the trailer for any safety hazards, such as broken or sharp objects in the trailer. If animals are tied, use slipknots tied securely at head height. Do not allow animals to have their heads out of the trailer, where they could be hit by flying objects.

Disinfect all equipment, including buckets, manure rakes and shovels, halters and brushes, before bringing it to the show. Also, clean and disinfect the trailer and avoid transporting animals with livestock from other farms, when possible, to decrease the risk of contamination.

Next week: Farm and Dairy will provide seven more ways to keep show animals healthy during and after shows.

Sources: Preventing the spread of animal diseases — Applications for youth livestock shows by Rosie Nold, extension youth animal science specialist; David R. Smith, extension beef/dairy veterinarian, Michael C. Brumm, extension swine specialist, University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension; Livestock trailer safety, extension.org; Biosecurity checklist for livestock exhibitors, Washington State Department of Agriculture; Keeping your livestock show animals healthy, The Poultry Site; Keeping animals healthy, Penn State Extension.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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