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For many FFA and 4-H youth and their animals, it's showtime.
Now is the time of year when many young adults are showing off
such livestock as cattle, sheep, swine, and goats at fairs and
competitions all over the country. Dr. Floron Faries,
professor and extension veterinarian, Texas AgriLife Extension
Service, Texas A&M System, has some advice for youth to help
ensure their livestock show season is a big hit.
"Plans begin about a year before the livestock show. In fact,
the health program begins before you even get the animal," states
Faries recommends purchasing healthy animals from places that
have good management practices.
"As you travel and look for show livestock, ask the seller to
immunize prior to purchase, allowing enough time for the immunity
to become established," Faries adds. "If vaccinations cannot
be administered at the seller's place, begin vaccinations on day of
arrival. Do not wait."
The day the show animal arrives home, perform a visual exam and
repeat the exam several times throughout the season.
"Watch the animal every day and observe its behavior and
attitude," Faries stresses. "Watch for healthy and unhealthy
Faries adds, "The most common medical problems seen in show
livestock are respiratory diseases or lung diseases. They can
be viral, bacterial, or both."
Respiratory diseases are common, because during the show season
animals are mingling with other animals at fairs or other central
locations for weighing. Therefore, every time your animal
leaves home there is a risk of exposure and often an animal may
return with a cough or fever.
Follow a preventive program of administering vaccinations to
avoid respiratory diseases.
"Become educated as to what viruses and bacteria may cause
respiratory problems and talk with your veterinarian," says
The types of vaccines administered for each species vary, so
become familiar with what is needed for your animal.
Be sure to read the label and know what vaccines must be
repeated. "I find a common mistake is that the owner does not
realize the shots need to be repeated because he or she didn't look
at the label," says Faries.
Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian, always follow
labeling instructions to help ensure that the vaccination is most
effective. The noninfectious vaccines, which are unable to
multiply in the body, usually require two injections, Faries
says. The second injection is given 3-6 weeks after the
"The key to a healthy animal is starting early with disease
prevention and not waiting until you arrive at the show to begin
treatment," says Faries. "Practicing good health management such as
close observations and proper vaccinations will help your chances
in any competition."
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