Sixteen Steps for Showing Securely
Fair season is right around the corner, and now is the ideal time when exhibitors need to be aware of biosecurity precautions for their animals. According to Amanda Marney, agriculture preparedness specialist, University of Missouri Extension, FFA and 4-H members understand the preparation and hard work it takes to bring home Grand Champion honors. However, they may not be aware that they need to be observing some basic biosecurity measures.
“All exhibitors and their parents should talk about how they can make biosecurity part of their daily animal care,” noted Marney. “They can also discuss these points with their veterinarian.”
Exhibitors may ask themselves, “What is biosecurity?” Simply put, biosecurity is what each individual can do to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. As stated earlier, biosecurity should be a part of daily animal care. “While it is true that even the best biosecurity plan cannot avoid all risk of disease, every step an exhibitor takes will reduce the chance of disease in their livestock,” said Marney. “Exhibitors need to realize that their animals can get sick from bacteria and viruses just like them. The germs could be on contaminated feed, bedding, dirt or a worker’s clothing, equipment or other infected animals. Biosecurity can help animals stay healthy by breaking the chain of transmission.”
Many people may not know it, but biosecurity is already a part of their daily life. Washing your hands before you eat is a biosecurity practice. This practice washes away disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses that an exhibitor may have picked up when they shook someone’s hand or turned a doorknob.
Why should exhibitors be concerned about biosecurity during a fair or livestock show? Unfortunately, livestock exhibitions are a potential threat to the health of individual animals, the herds from which they originate and the industry they represent. At fairs and livestock shows, animals from different species, breeds, age and sex are co-mingled. Not to mention, the animals come from different locations and are managed very differently. This co-mingling of animals creates an atmosphere that could lead to transmission of diseases. In addition, travel, close confinement in unfamiliar settings and other stressors can lead to increased disease susceptibility. Stress can also cause animals that could be carriers of disease to shed these organisms in increased quantities. Also, fairs and livestock shows allow people from a cross-section of the population to have close contacts with animals. All of these factors put exhibitioner’s animals at risk of becoming exposed to a disease.
16 Biosecurity Suggestions You Can Use
1. Work with your veterinarian to establish a herd health program. Ensure that all of your animals are well vaccinated before any animal is taken to a show or fair.
2. Do not bring any visibly sick animals to a show or fair.
3. Make sure all veterinary health inspections and certificates of veterinary inspection are current for all animals that will be taken to a show or fair.
4. Disinfect all equipment such as buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows, manure baskets, lead ropes, blankets, snares, clippers, scissors, brushes, show box, etc. before entering the fairgrounds. A recommended disinfectant is Roccal D Plus. This is available from your veterinarian or vet supply store.
5. Don’t share equipment with other exhibitors unless it has been cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
6. Minimize stress prior to the fair by providing a clean, dry and comfortable environment, plenty of water and the same feeds that will be taken to the show or fair.
7. Keep unused equipment and feed bagged or covered to reduce the risk of contamination.
8. Vehicles and trailers used to transport animals should be well cleaned and disinfected, inside and out. Do not transport other exhibitors’ animals in the same trailer. Keep traffic between the animal areas of the fairgrounds and the home to a minimum.
9. During the fair, keep animals as comfortable as possible to help reduce stress. Provide adequate bedding and plenty of air movement. Also, make sure clean water is always available and that your animals get the same feed as they do at home.
10. Minimize nose-to-nose contact with animals from other farms. Avoid contact with manure from other animals.
11. Keep wheelbarrow tires, pitchforks and feeding equipment clean and free of manure.
12. Avoid sharing grooming equipment as well as feed and water equipment. If you loan equipment to someone, clean and disinfect it when it is returned.
13. For milking animals, it is best to bring a portable milking machine from your farm. Avoid sharing milking units.
14. Practice good personal hygiene – wash hands after touching animals and before eating.
15. Clean and disinfect all items at the end of the fair before taking them home.
16. Properly dispose of unused bedding, hay and feed after the fair. Do not bring it home.
Good biosecurity does not end once the fair is finished. It is important to keep fair animals isolated from other animals and pets for at least 30 days. If possible, you should quarantine the animals in a facility that is completely separate from your other animals to avoid contact or airborne transmission of a possible disease. Check these animals daily for any signs of illness. While your animals are in quarantine, minimize stress by making sure they are comfortable, well fed and watered.