We are deep into county fair season and just days away from the Wisconsin State Fair. Youth across the state have been working hard on preparing their livestock projects all summer to hit the show ring. Weather forecasts for the near future show some continuing high temperatures, which means we must be mindful of animals’ wellbeing. Bernie O’Rourke, youth livestock specialist with UW-Extension has some reminders when it comes to keeping your livestock cool and comfortable on the way to the fair and once you get there.
Animals can become distressed and uncomfortable in high levels in heat and humidity. Taking them to a fair or show with a new environment, a new pen, new water and other factors can add even more stress to the situation as well. O’Rourke reminds exhibitors to be mindful of how these animals are transitioning to keep them comfortable and healthy.
Even before animals arrive at the fair, transporting them creates a whole other set of stresses. Figuring out a schedule and keeping things moving can help to make it a positive situation. We can’t always control the schedule of fairs and shows, but it is recommended to try and move these animals in cooler weather. That may mean hauling during very early mornings or late at night, trying to avoid the hottest part of the day. When it comes to bedding the trailer, avoid using straw to prevent holding heat and possibly dampen the bedding if needed to keep things cool. O’Rourke adds to make sure to not overcrowd animals in the trailer and get all your tack loaded ahead of time, so once animals are loaded you can get on the road right away.
Upon arrival to the fair or show, be sure to get the animals off the trailer as quickly as possible to settle in and transition easily. Get animals to their pens or stalls right away, have fans up and running and provide plenty of fresh water. Paying attention to water consumption is a main priority, as animals may not be used to the new taste or smell of the water. Monitor how much water your animal consumes and use filters or add electrolytes or other flavor enhancers to encourage animals to drink if necessary.
If your animal become sick or overly stressed after arrival, be sure to consult a veterinarian right away. Contact either your normal vet or the vet on call at the fair to assess the situation. Be sure to care for that animal right away to prevent anything worse from happening.
The fair is a great time to visit friends and have fun, but O’Rourke reminds youth to focus on caring for your animals during the fair. You’ve worked hard with them all year and want to provide them with the best possible care at all times.