When it comes to visiting the county fair, people generally believe the greatest risk is out on the midway where rides turn you every which way. However, there is a great risk in the barns, as well, and not just from getting injured by the livestock. The livestock shown by youth at the fair will often enter the food chain or be on the same farm as other animals that will. We are all responsible for making sure everything is done to prevent the spread of illness.
Precautions to take
Swine are susceptible to human viruses/diseases such as the flu. If you or someone on site has symptoms, stay away from your swine. Domesticated pets can also spread diseases to swine.
Anyone coming in contact with your swine should not visit or work at another location with swine. Humans can cross contaminate from one farm to another. If absolutely necessary, they should change clothes, shoes, rubber boots, and wash very carefully between sites.
Keep human food (especially meat products) away from swine areas. Have a designated eating area for humans that pose no risk of the animals getting hold of the food items.
Clean and disinfect equipment including large items such as tractors and trailers before bringing it near a second area or animal group. This includes shovels, rakes, and feed buckets, too.
If your animal returns to your farm from another area (weighing, fair, hoof trimming), be sure to keep them isolated from others for at least 30 days. Do not mix species when transporting.
Jewelry is difficult to clean while handwashing or showering. It is safer to remove the items. Not only can they carry germs, the handler can get injured by getting the item caught or just in handling ropes and halters.
Minimize appetite issues by not changing feed and water from home to fair. If you and the showgrounds have different water systems (city, well, county), consider adding something to the water at home that you will then add at the show to make both taste the same (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.). Have enough of your own feed to finish out the project.
Do not store feed bags in the same location as gas or oil, or machines using these items. Vapors can contaminate feed through the bag.
Never wrap a lead rope around your hand. You will not beat a 1200 pound animal in tug-0-war.
REMEMBER – people at the fair are often unfamiliar with farm animals and will get too close, touch sensitive areas, and try to have an experience which may not end well for them. Post signs, monitor your area, educate the public, and expose your project animal to people in advance. One suggestion is trailering steers, goats, or horses and sit in a parking lot where there is heavy traffic.