What should you do when bringing home your 4-H project animal?

When bringing animals back to the farm, make sure to implement a biosecurity program.

Horse in stall

It is officially spring and as we leave winter behind us, summer and fair season are on the minds of many 4-H and FFA youth. As youth participants bring home new animals as part of their 4-H projects, biosecurity protocols need to remain a top priority.

No matter if you are buying your animal projects at a local store, sale yard or through a producer, it is important to separate your new animals from any other animals on the farm. Ideally, any animal arriving on the farm should remain separated from other animals for 30 days by at least 30 feet. If circumstances at your farm or animal project housing area prevent you from implementing this procedure, you should keep your new and retuning animals separated for at least 14 days while avoiding nose-to-nose contact with other animals.   

When returning home from a different farm, fair, exhibition or show, make sure to clean and disinfect your livestock trailer, equipment, footwear and any other animal related items that may have been used while off the farm. Although this can be difficult after a week of fair or long show weekend, it is a critical step in helping reduce the spread of disease on your farm.

During feeding and watering times, take a few extra minutes to observe your animals for any signs of illnesses. By identifying sick animals as early as possible, you can help prevent the spread of disease within your flock or herd. When making decisions about treating sick or injured animals, it is always a best practice to first talk with your local veterinarian.

In addition to your 4-H project animal, make sure to keep yourself personal items clean. You can do this by washing any soiled clothing, regularly cleaning and disinfecting your boots and shoes, personal protective equipment and washing your hands

You can learn more about maintaining a biosecurity program and animal care by taking the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) training online or find a local in-person training through Michigan State University Extension’s Event Calendar. To find more information about biosecurity, check out MSU Extension’s Zoonotic Disease website. There are resources to learn more and lesson plans to do at home or with clubs to reinforce good biosecurity practices.

MSU Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success.

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