Make plans to practice livestock biosecurity at your fair

Tips and best practices for preparing and handling biosecurity at your fair.

State veterinarian Dr. James Averill presents at the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Conference.

State veterinarian Dr. James Averill presents at the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Conference.

Fairs across the state annually gather in January to participate in the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Annual Convention. Sessions vary in topic, but each year features a livestock health update and other animal health sessions for fair boards and representatives. Biosecurity and disease prevention is one area of continued emphasis in recent years, helping fairs to mitigate risks for animals, exhibitors and the public while at the fair.

Why is there a biosecurity concern?

  • Animals come from many different places.
  • Potential for increased animal stress at fairs.
  • Often unknown health and vaccination status of animals.

Good biosecurity practices help keep all animals healthy and exhibition events successful. With one in six new emerging human diseases considered zoonotic, or diseases humans and animals can share, continual education at all levels helps keep everyone healthy. The three main populations of concerns for fair boards include exhibitors, animals and the public. Below is a listing of three strategies to be used to reduce risk and have a successful event for each population group.

Exhibitors

  • Encourage exhibitors to properly wash their hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Discourage eating or drinking in the barns as well as sleeping in the barns.
  • Keep exhibitors healthy by ensuring they are staying hydrated, eating and getting plenty of sleep. If exhibitors are not feeling well, encourage them to seek medical attention.

Animals

  • Identify a fair veterinarian to have in place before the fair and have a protocol in place for sick animals.
  • Try to minimize animal stress by ensuring animals are healthy, have good ventilation and access to fresh, clean water.
  • Disinfect the building before moving animals into the fair to start with clean surfaces.

General public

  • Encourage attendees to properly wash their hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Discourage eating or drinking in the animal barns.
  • Consider limiting barn access for parts of the week to the public to keep the animals and fairgoers healthy. This can only be accomplished with proper signage.

Additional resources can be found on the Michigan State University Extension website for animal science content. Specifically, a new Swine Influenza webpage was created in 2016 to help keep everyone healthy. For more ideas on how to practice biosecurity and prevent diseases, consider utilizing Animal Science Anywhere lessons to teach youth and adults.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM content are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”

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