Showing pigs is a dynamic part of the pig industry in the United States. More than a million pigs are born, bred and raised for the show ring each year. But with that exciting part of the pork industry, comes a responsibility to practice good biosecurity to help protect people and pigs from disease threats.
“For many people, youth livestock exhibitions at fairs are their only interaction with livestock,” says Jodi Sterle, a pork producer and an animal science professor at Iowa State University. “It’s important that all swine exhibitors follow proper biosecurity procedures to keep their animals healthy and to demonstrate the tremendous amount of care that pork producers give their animals every day.”
Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the Pork Checkoff, says ensuring that youth exhibitors have information they need to follow good biosecurity measures is a priority for the checkoff.
“Good biosecurity starts with knowing what steps to take at the farm, at the show and when returning home to reduce unnecessary health risks to people and pigs,” Becton says.
Follow Biosecurity Basics
To put the best possible biosecurity plan in place, exhibitors should work with their local veterinarian. According to Becton, there are basic steps to any well-planned biosecurity program that producers should follow. These steps are outlined in the checkoff’s newly revised booklet, A Champions Guide to Youth Swine Exhibition: Biosecurity and Your Pig Project. This booklet and other materials for exhibitors is available at the Pork Storeat www.pork.orgor by calling (800) 456-7675.
“The basics of biosecurity remain the same, such as keeping all pens, feeders, waterers and other equipment clean, disinfected and dry between uses,” Becton says. “Also, minimize exposure of your animals to non-essential people and vehicles. And take steps to keep wildlife away.”
Before Heading to the Fair
Prior to attending a show, review your biosecurity plan. Some fairs and exhibitions may require health papers that list specific vaccines, such as for influenza, and may require targeted health testing, such as for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.
As part of your biosecurity plan, work with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule and testing needs for your pig.
Steps to consider prior to going to a show include:
• Complete all training and paperwork needed for the show in a timely manner (i.e. Youth PQA Plus).
• Make sure that your pig meets the specific show requirements for your local, county, state or national show (identification, vaccinations, health papers, etc.).
• Take only clean and disinfected equipment to the show (prevent any potential pathogen transfer from your pig to another).
• Bring adequate supplies so you won’t have to borrow or share equipment to prevent getting a disease from other pigs.
• Never bring an unhealthy animal to a show, fair or exhibition.
• Evaluate your pig’s health on a daily basis prior to the show to determine if your pigs are eating normally and whether they are coughing, thumping or having trouble breathing. Fever and loose stools are other concerns.
“Biosecurity is an ongoing process,” Becton says. “The Pork Checkoff will continue to create new ways to help everyone involved in showing pigs do their part to help keep our industry healthy and growing like champions.”
For more information, contact Lisa Becton at LBecton@pork.org.
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