Biosecurity concerns for 4-H youth and families with breeding pigs prompted a new self-identification procedure for 4-H members who will exhibit pigs at the South Dakota State Fair. Helping minimize the spread of disease caused by the recent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) outbreak became a top priority for South Dakota 4-H.

Megan Nielson the SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Livestock Field Specialist noted that 4-H youth will now be able to self-identify their own pigs. The new identification process decreases the opportunity for disease spread between animals and gives 4-H families the option to participate at 4-H events without limiting their eligibility when it comes to the state fair.  

PEDV is a major concern among South Dakota pork producers. The disease causes severe diarrhea in young piglets and often results in severe dehydration and death in pre-weaned pigs. Milder clinical signs are noted in older animals.

Russ Daly, who serves as the SDSU Extension Veterinarian, stated that it is very important for individuals to remember that PEDV only affects pigs, and it is not transmissible to other livestock species or people. However, there currently is no vaccine against PEDV, but scientists, including many at South Dakota State University, and producers are learning more about PEDV and how to deal with the threats posed by the virus.

Daly noted that the best way to maintain herd health is prevention, which is why the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, South Dakota Pork Producers Council and SDSU Extension Specialists worked together with South Dakota 4-H to initiate self-identification of pigs this fair season.

The new guidelines should in no way limit the participation of 4-H members within the swine project, Nielson said. South Dakota 4-H developed and implemented the self-identification process for market swine exhibitors in an effort to help accommodate 4-H youth who have their own breeding pig projects, as well as practice a high level of biosecurity.

All 4-H youth who follow the outlined protocol to self-identify market swine this year for State Fair are eligible to exhibit in the 4-H Division at State Fair. They do not have to pre-qualify at their County Fair or Achievement Days. This new identification process does not eliminate 4-H junior shows. Counties can choose whether or not to offer a market swine show; however show managers are advised to review and follow biosecurity measures outlined by the South Dakota Animal Industry Board if they choose to continue to offer a market swine show.

Nielson noted that the choice to bring hogs to a county fair or an achievement day to be judged, is up to the 4-H member and their family.

To self-identify their 4-H pig’s families need to contact the local 4-H office and request 4-H Green Tags and DNA sample envelopes to take home and use to identify their own animals.

More on PEDV

If cases of PEDV are suspected, producers should work with their veterinarians to determine the best response. It's important to the industry that suspect cases get promptly investigated and confirmed with diagnostics in order for us to better understand how PED is affecting our US, and South Dakota's, swine populations.

Nielson stressed the importance of those individuals who choose to exhibit animals understand the risks that may be involved. More awareness of how to implement simple biosecurity measures while at home and at shows will be stressed in Youth Pork Quality Assurance Trainings across the state.

Families raising pigs (or any kind of animal) should make an effort to keep animal and feed areas clean, control who and what is coming on the premises, have designated shoes and clothing for the farm only and wear clean clothes when at a new place.

SDSU Extension encourages 4-H youth and volunteers involved in the swine project to review the biosecurity information provided by the National Pork Board at www.pork.org.