In Michigan, the county fair season is quickly approaching and youth are preparing their livestock projects for exhibition. In the United States, more than 1 million pigs are raised for either exhibition or shown at different venues. This segment of the pork industry has an important role in health management, keeping pigs healthy and protecting them from disease outbreaks, which will also help to prevent the spread into and through the commercial swine industry.
By using proper production practices you protect the health of your animals, safeguard the health of other exhibitor’s animals and protect the commercial industry from the transfer of disease. Managing the health of your swine herd or project can be a tough job, but by using biosecurity practices for your farm, you can be proactive in maintaining the health of your animals.
Biosecurity is a combination of different production practices and methods that can be used on your farm to protect a pig population against the introduction and spread of disease. This means that you will be using different measures to keep your animals as healthy as possible and preventing disease causing organisms from entering your herd and then spreading throughout the area.
To minimize the exposure of pigs to disease causing organisms, Michigan State University Extension strongly encourages that everyone with show and exhibition pigs learn and understand how diseases are spread. Direct and indirect contact are two methods in which disease moves from one area or animal to another. Direct contact includes nose-to-nose contact with other animals. Indirect movement of disease is the transfer of disease causing organisms on people, clothing or things.
Although nose-to-nose contact with other pigs at swine shows cannot be prevented it is important to make sure that your pigs are healthy and free from disease when they are exposed to other animals. If your animal has a fever, severe cough or appears to be under the weather, you will want to consider leaving this animal at the farm. Other pigs that appear healthy may also be shedding disease and not attending the upcoming show should be taken into consideration. If returning home from such an event, the best practice is to isolate these pigs from other animals on the farm by providing a space that limits contact, especially nose-to-nose contact between the animals. This helps protect the animals on the farm from anything pigs returning from a show were exposed to.