Animal Check-In


July 30, 2019 -

What do you look for at animal check-ins? 

Official Identification: 

Goats, sheep, cattle, swine, camelids (llamas, alpacas, camels) must have official identification to be exhibited in Michigan. Visit for all animal identification and testing requirements. 

Test Results: 

  • Poultry (except waterfowl, pigeons, and doves) must have a negative pullorum test before entering the barn. 
  • Horses must have proof of a negative coggins test. 
  • Cattle coming from or being shown in Alpena, Alcona, Cheboygan, Montmorency, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle Counties have additional bovine tuberculosis requirements. Contact MDARD's Atlanta Office at 888-565-8626 with questions. 

Don't forget to "check-in" all exhibits, including pony rides, rodeos, petting zoos, open classes or any animal vendor, and make sure they meet the above requirements. 

Signs of a healthy animal: 

Front end: 

  • Clear eyes
  • Alert
  • No excessive salivation
  • No nasal discharge 
  • Head held up and no head tilt
  • No rapid or exaggerated breathing (thumping, jerking, or difficulty breathing)

Back end: 

  • No signs of diarrhea
  • No rectal or vaginal prolapses

Everything in-between: 

  • Animal is not humped up
  • No signs of lameness
  • Hair/wool/feathers are normal
  • No skin concerns like warts or ringworm
  • No visible parasites
  • No signs of injuries from transportation

If an animal does not appear healthy, contact your fair veterinarian. 

How do you set up a check in? 

  • Be mindful of human safety and minimize animal stress. 
  • Have a single point of entry to your designated check-in outside of the barn.
  • For large animals, have two people, so animals can be assessed before they are off-loaded and before they enter the barn.
  • For small animals, assess the animals after they are removed from their transportation cage and before they enter the barn.
  • Have a place to isolate ill animals. Animals may just be experiencing stress (especially on a hot day). Isolation allows the animal to relax, while ensuring that a sick animal is not being introduced to the other animals already in the barn. 
  • Don't offload animals that appear ill. 
  • If an animal appears ill, hold the animal to see if signs persist and contact the fair veterinarian. 
  • If one animal appears ill in a group, do not let any of the other animals in that group into the barn. 

Who should perform the check-in? 

Anyone with working knowledge of the species being inspected can perform the check-in. Some examples are 4-H leaders, barn superintendents, fair personnel, a veterinary technician or a veterinarian. 

What are some good biosecurity practices? 

  • Removing animals from trailers and cages: 
  • Use disposable gloves or hand sanitizer between trailers or cages. 
  • Use disposable foot covers or sanitize your boots between trailers. 

Animal handling areas: 

Sanitize chutes, scales, tables and equipment (sorting boards, etc.) between groups of animals. 

General area: 

  • Keep manure cleaned up in and around the check-in area. 
  • Limit the amount of people handling the animals. 
  • Minimize the sharing of equipment. When it is shared, disinfect between uses. 


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