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Biosecurity During Fair Time

By Michaela Simcoe, University of Minnesota Extension

County fairs and other livestock exhibitions will soon be in full swing around Minnesota. Fairs are a great way for people in the community to learn more about livestock and the people that take care of them, but it can also be a risk for the animals and people involved. The combination of animals coming from multiple farms in one area and increased stress due to new environments can present a biosecurity hazard for animals at the fair as well as your herd at home. The following fair biosecurity checklist will help to prevent disease spread during the busy fair season.

At the Fair 
      Check out the livestock housing area. The barn should be clean and properly ventilated with adequate space between animals. Nose-nose contact is the quickest way to spread disease, so preventing contact between livestock from different farms is very important.
      Provide animals with ample feed and water. The stress of new surroundings combined with excess heat and inadequate nutrition greatly increases the likelihood of them getting sick.
      Avoid sharing equipment such as pitchforks, shovels and buckets with exhibitors from other farms.
      Wash your hands and boots off frequently to avoid carrying bacteria throughout the barns.
      If you are letting fairgoer pet your animal, make sure they wash their hands before and after to minimize the chance of disease spread. This a great time to inform fairgoers about the importance of practicing strict biosecurity.

After the Fair
      Isolate fair animals from the rest of the herd for at least two weeks to prevent them from spreading any disease they picked up at the fair.
      Watch livestock for signs of weakness or sickness and contact a veterinarian if symptoms develop.
      Rinse and disinfect all equipment that entered the fairgrounds thoroughly, including buckets, feeders and shovels.

Infectious diseases can be transmitted by animals, people, equipment and vehicles, which is why implementing and sticking to strict biosecurity practices at all times is a key aspect in keeping your livestock healthy. Kansas State University Extension is a great resource for species specific biosecurity information.
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