Tis County Fair Season in our parts...Southern MN that is. I am the current County Dairy Superintendent for the 4-H, FFA, and Open Class Dairy Shows. In my role, I am responsible for working with youth and parents to make sure we run a fun, successful show, but still safe. When you visit your local county fairs you see the animals, you see the kids and their families working on their animals, caring for them, but there is a LOT of work behind the scenes that is done to make sure that you are safe to visit the animals and we as farmers are safe to bring our animals.
BIO SECURITY....our work to make sure that animals and people are safe from any hazardous organisms. Did you know that each exhibitor at the fair has to pass an on site inspection by a licenced veterinarian? Yep, that's right! Any animals that might have any contagious disease are sent home immediately...for the safety of the other exhibitors. These families and kids put months and years of work into developing their show animals....so we take their health very seriously. We would hate to make animals at the neighbor's farm sick and we would hate to bring home something from the fair and make the rest of our cows sick. Cleanliness is next to Godliness....that's right, we wash our trailers, wash our feed pans and drinking cups...everything to make sure the cows and calves are well taken care of.
Have you been asked to clean your hands BEFORE and AFTER petting an animal at the fair? There is a reason for that...just like we don't want you to get a "germ" from the cow, we also don't want you to give our cows "germs". Example: This spring we did a day care tour, and one of the kids that petted my calf did not wash their hands well. As a result my calf contracted a bacteria with gave it diarrhea. We treated her and she was fine, but if we had not exposed her to the kids she would have never gotten sick. So please remember to wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER petting animals at the fair...it's for your safety as well as theirs.
On the farm, owners and managers often post signs at the front of the farm stating "No One Admitted Past this Point, This is a Bio secure Area". These signs are to warn visitors that they must check in at the office and not go wandering around the farm. Our vets often "wash in" and "wash out". They scrub their boots before treating cows as well as washing before they leave. We use sterile equipment to prevent infection. We sanitize milking equipment to keep our product safe....when it's all said and done on a dairy farm, we are all about BIO SECURITY-for ours and ours :)