It doesn’t matter the time of year, location of the show or the species you’re hauling, as the owner, exhibitor, parent or younger sibling, you are likely going to come home with the stock show crud.
What about your animals? Don’t they go through the same stress you do? They leave their cozy, temperature-controlled show barn, travel hundreds of miles and often change altitude and time zones. Their routine is rocked just about like yours, and yes, they too are likely to come home with the crud.
Before and at the Show
Livestock are resilient, but the stress of traveling and changing environments will take its toll on their immune and digestive systems, just like humans. Dr. Daniel Hendrickson, veterinarian at Four Star Veterinary Service in Farmland, Indiana, and purebred hog producer, says common illnesses that pigs contract include influenza, PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) and bacterial pneumonia from stress. He said that pigs should be vaccinated for PRRS and the flu at an early age, and that keeping an animal’s gut healthy is the key to keeping it on feed. And he suggests adding Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® to your show stock’s water a few days prior to leaving for a show.
Blaine Rodgers, BioZyme® Show Livestock Business Development & Field Support, agrees that Liquid Boost is an easy way to help livestock deal with the stress of travel and shows.
“Liquid Boost provides vitamins, minerals and Amaferm® to give your animals that healthy boost they need prior to leaving home,” Rodgers said. “It includes a flavoring agent the animals will be used to in the water so they are used to drinking that same flavored water at the shows.”
Other preventative tips that Dr. Hendrickson offers prior to leaving home include making sure your trailer is sealed up properly, especially for hauling hogs, and keeping temperature changes minimal. He also suggests taking a few five-gallon buckets of water from home, so when the livestock first get to the show, they can drink familiar water first, before being introduced to city water.
“People tend to overuse electrolytes in their water, which causes diarrhea,” Dr. Hendrickson said. “Animals need good, clean water, or water with Liquid Boost in it.”
Dr. Hendrickson suggests filling water buckets at the show and letting them set for two or three hours before offering water to the animals to get the chlorine taste out of the water. Also, when his family attends jackpot hog shows they tend to show off the trailer to minimize nose-to-nose contact with other hogs.
Another product to keep on hand at the show is the Vita Charge Paste (transitioned to Vita Charge® Gel July 2019). Dr. Hendrickson said this quick-acting supplement typically works to get your animals back on feed when they are stressed.
Back at Your Barn
You can’t take every animal to every show, and chances are you are feeding different animals for different end points. When you return home from a show, make sure that all animals in the barn stay healthy.
“The animals that didn’t go to the show are just as susceptible to get sick as the ones that did go,” Rodgers said. “Keep a close eye on them, and don’t overlook their health.”
Since complete quarantine isn’t a likely scenario, Dr. Hendrickson said he keeps his pigs in separate ends of the barn. The state fair hogs not going to weekly jackpot shows stay at one end of the barn, and the jackpot pigs that travel each weekend and are exposed to other pigs stay in their end of the barn. And if you hear of an outbreak, it is ok to stay home from a weekend of showing, to maintain your own barn’s health.
And, what if your animal is just down and out? It is likely your show animal needs an antibiotic. Contact your local veterinarian to check out your sick animal and prescribe a treatment plan.
Just like you added Liquid Boost to your water prior to leaving for the show, it is a good idea to add it back to the water for a few days when you get home from the show. And the good news is it will actually help any antibiotics your animals are on.
“Vita Charge doesn’t interfere with antibiotic use,” Rodgers said. “It actually helps the healthy bacteria grow in the gut, which is what we want.”
Keeping your show animals in good health prior to, during and after attending a show will help them succeed in the show ring. Make sure to keep them on a regular feeding schedule, keep their environmental temperature changes at a minimum and be sure to watch for any signs of illness that can be treated early on, and they should come home without the stock show crud. These same tips will usually work for humans traveling to shows too.