How you can reduce biosecurity risks in 4-H projects: Part 3

Biosecurity related to 4-H projects is a matter of high priority! Taking simple precautions will protect animals, members and consumers.

A picture of a hog show with the words: 4-H Project Biosecurity Tip: Keep judging areas clean and dry.

As mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series by Michigan State University Extension, national and state agencies have identified biosecurity related to animal agriculture as a high priority. The United States Department of Agriculture has a long-term goal of safeguarding the animal production industry from accidental outbreaks of animal disease. Disease control and surveillance and food system security are high priorities in ensuring that people and animals are protected. 

4-H animal exhibitors can do their part to help safeguard the animal production industry by paying particular attention to management, both on their own farms and during exhibition. Over a series of articles, an overview of current 4-H animal project trends, animal housing, animal pens, wash racks, judging areas, and visitor interactions will be explored for potential risks and how those risks can be reduced. This article will focus on the judging area.

Often times at exhibition, judging of multiple species occurs in one or two general areas. The risk for cross contamination in this area is great. As in other barn areas, standing water and animal waste are the major risks. 

When judging areas are watered to control dust, the water applicator -- whether it be a water truck, sprinkler, or hose -- must be properly calibrated to apply an appropriate amount of water to prevent areas of standing water. This could be difficult due to potential high and low areas in the arena, or areas that are affected by the sun more than others. Show personnel can be mindful of where those challenges in the judging arena are and adjust accordingly. Also, a small amount of standing water can be worked into the arena with an arena groomer, as needed. 

Additionally, animal waste is a risk. Animal waste should be cleaned as throughout the show. This is as simple as having a show staff person with the responsibility of cleaning animal waste as the show goes on. A wheelbarrow and manure scoop is all that is needed. The scoop and wheelbarrow should be properly cleaned and disinfected after each specie show and manure should be dumped in approved temporary animal waste areas for permanent disposal.

The next article in this series will discuss youth biosecurity risk and disease prevention programs that can be implemented into club and county 4-H programs. Also look for: 

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