Going home: Biosecurity tips for animals that travel off the farm

Animals that travel to county fairs and other exhibitions that will return home pose a significant biosecurity risk to the animals who stay home.

Horse in a stall
Photo by MSU

Animals that are exhibited at the county fair, jackpot shows, and other exhibitions are likely near and dear to their exhibitor’s hearts. After all, they spend countless hours training and preparing their animal for the show. We protect them from everything before the show season, but do we give enough thought to what happens when they come home? Each time an animal is taken out of its home environment and exhibited, there is a certain amount of risk for exposure to illness.

Michigan State University Extension offers these biosecurity steps exhibitors can take to protect their show animals and those that stayed at home.

  • Keep animals that left home separate from animals that did not for a minimum of 14 days. If at all possible, do not allow nose-to-nose contact. Provide as much distance between animals as possible.
  • Disinfect all buckets, feeders, tools and footwear that left home.
  • Throw away any feed or hay that left home.
  • Always wear clean clothes and footwear. Boot coverings may be helpful when caring for isolated animals.
  • Take care of animals that stayed home from the show first then animals that were at the show. Do not go back and forth between animals as this increases the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Do not eat or drink in the barn.
  • Observe animals daily for signs and symptoms of illness, such as:
    • Obvious pain or discomfort
    • Decrease in appetite and/or water intake
    • Fever
    • Lethargy
    • Diarrhea or changes in consistency of manure
    • Discharge from nasal cavity or eyes
    • Overall weakness

If you notice any of the above symptoms, please call your veterinarian immediately.

Care of animals after traveling is just as critical as their pre-show care. Exhibited animals are exposed to new animal populations and fairgoers and will typically experience stress during their time away from home. By practicing these biosecurity steps, you can help keep all of your animals safe and healthy.

Did you find this article useful?