It’s show season: General biosecurity recommendations for livestock exhibitors

For many of you who raise livestock, the show ring is where hard work meets opportunity. After endless hours of work, all the blood, sweat and tears begin to pay off. This is the moment, the chance, you have worked so hard for.

Biosecurity involves the implementation of many important procedures to help prevent the introduction and transmission of disease to your animals. Show animals face an increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases that can be transmitted by animals, people, equipment and vehicles.

“You’re taking animals from various locations and production backgrounds, and putting them in a new environment,” said Neogen veterinarian Dr. Nick Wagner. “You’re having spectators come to these sites, and that obviously increases the susceptibility to disease for those animals.”

All livestock need to be protected by a biosecurity plan, especially one that uses proven, effective disinfectants such as Neogen’s Synergize and BioSentry Biophene Spray Disinfectant. For cleaners, Barnstorm and Farm-Foam EVO get the job done.

Once a thorough cleaning and disinfection of vehicles, equipment, and facilities is complete, there’s still more to be done. Here are other steps you should take to reduce the risk and keep your animals healthy.

Before the show
All good things take preparation, and that includes biosecurity. You should begin taking these considerations a few weeks before the show.

  • Work with your veterinarian to ensure you have required health paperwork and any other required documentation completed.
  • Monitor your animal’s health for signs of illness. If you see anything out of the ordinary, consult with your veterinarian — you should never take a sick animal to a show.
  • Clean and disinfect all your show, grooming, feeding and watering equipment before taking them to the show.

Dr. Wagner notes to be sure to watch your animal’s eating habits, and to recognize any potential signs of illness such as discharge from the eyes, mouth or nose, coughing, wheezing, sneezing or diarrhea.

“Keep the animal comfortable and reduce stress by making sure they eat and drink,” he said. “Something you can do prior to the show is put electrolytes in the water, because many times the water source is going to be different. If your animal is used to having those components in their water, they will continue to drink at the show.”

At the show
Careful vigilance is essential while the event is ongoing. This is where the risks are highest, so act accordingly!

  • Monitor your animal’s health. If you suspect your animal is sick, notify a show official immediately.
  • Avoid direct contact with other animals.
  • Don’t share feed/water buckets, grooming supplies and other equipment with other exhibitors.
  • Don’t place water hoses into buckets when watering. This might cause transfer of pathogens.
  • Keep your area clean. Remove manure often.
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after handling animals or equipment. Keep hand sanitizer readily available.
  • Clean and disinfect equipment between use.

“Ensure that you’re using the same feedstuffs that you’re using at home,” Dr. Wagner said. “If your animals maintain eating and drinking, despite the new environment, they’re going to face less stress.”

For more livestock show biosecurity tips, watch Dr. Wagner explain his best practices here.

After the show
When all’s said and done, hopefully you’ll be departing the show with a few accomplishments to celebrate — but don’t rest quite yet, because there are still a few steps to take.

  • Isolate your returning animals from the rest of your animals when you arrive home. That way, if they picked up an infectious disease at the show but aren’t showing symptoms yet, they won’t spread the bacteria or virus. Consult your veterinarian about location, distance and isolation duration.
  • Don’t share equipment between isolated animals and your other animals.
  • Monitor your animals’ health closely.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment, shoes, vehicles and trailers that you took to the show. Allow them to dry completely.

“It’s important to make time for biosecurity in situations like shows and exhibitions, despite the fact that everybody’s busy that time of year,” Dr. Wagner said. “You’ve worked so hard to get to that point. The important part is being able to take time for these additional steps to ensure that your animal is healthy so that you can be successful.”

For more on the main components of an effective biosecurity plan, check out some of our introductions to key concepts, like “Biosecurity 101: Cleaners vs. disinfectants” and “How disease ‘contact chains’ link farms near and far.”

 

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