Prioritizing Health and Comfort for Show Animals – Herald Democrat
Throughout the year, young men across the country prepare and travel to various events, such as cattle shows, rodeos, and fairs, to display their animals.
Because an animal’s performance at an event can be affected if it is exposed to stress or illness, Dr. Kevin Washburn, professor of internal medicine for large animals at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, offers tips for keeping animals relaxed and healthy every day. step by step.
First, owners must ensure that their animals are appropriately vaccinated so that they are healthy enough to travel.
“The best way to prevent any disease process is with proper vaccination when they are young and booster vaccinations when necessary,” Washburn said. “Giving booster vaccinations to your animals about three weeks before the fair is a great prevention practice.”
Most importantly, show animals need to be vaccinated against respiratory diseases before arriving at the show.
“Respiratory disease is the most common problem in show animals due to the stress of travel, a new environment, and mixing with animals from many different locations and backgrounds,” Washburn said. More specifically, cattle should be vaccinated against common respiratory pathogens before weaning and when weaning.
Owners should also set up trailers in a way that keeps show animals calm and comfortable, as travel can be stressful for them.
“Trailers must be adequately protected from inclement weather and have a non-slip surface regardless of whether or not they are bed-lined,” Washburn said. “Non-slip surfaces prevent animals from slipping, losing balance, and falling into trailers, so the potential for injury to animals is reduced.”
Washburn explained that ensuring the animal was as comfortable as possible in its trailer would reduce stress, which is better for the immune system.
“If the cattle are to be tethered, they must have a sufficient length of rope to hold their heads in the natural position; on long journeys the cattle must be unfettered, and the floor must be covered with matting or straw, and there must be enough room for them to lie down,” Washburn said. “For pigs and small ruminants like sheep and goats, there needs to be comfortable bedding so they can lie down while traveling.”
Once the animals are in the show pen, they will need frequent access to fresh water to prevent dehydration and to be fed the normal portion of food as dietary changes can cause digestive problems. Washburn also suggests owners provide fans or misters in the warmer months and space heaters in the cooler months to improve the animals’ comfort.
To maintain the health of the animal at the show and reduce the risk of spreading disease, especially when surrounded by other animals, Washburn encourages owners to use caution when walking from one animal stall to another.
“Many diseases are transmitted by the fecal-oral route, and contamination of bedding with fecal material from other farms can lead to disease in animals,” Washburn explained. “So pens and tie booths should only be entered by their owners to avoid bringing fecal material from one farm to another. If fecal material from shoes and boots is picked up from elsewhere in the exhibition area, owners should wash it before handling their animals.”
As another method of disease prevention, owners should avoid sharing with other animal caretakers their combs, brushes, hair clippers, feed troughs, water buckets, and tools used to clean bedding and stalls.
Finally, Washburn noted that the animal’s health should remain a priority when he returns home.
“Any show animal should be returned to its natural environment and allowed to rest from further training for at least five to seven days after being returned home,” Washburn said.
By practicing good health management before, during and after 4-H events, you can ensure that your show animals are healthy and comfortable every step of the way for the show to have a successful performance.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics can be directed to [email protected].