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Bulletin #1046, Biosecurity Precautionary Measures for Sheep & Goat Show Persons

Biosecurity Precautionary Measures for Sheep & Goat Show Persons

By Richard Brzozowski, Small Ruminant Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

For information about UMaine Extension programs and resources, visit extension.umaine.edu.
Find more of our publications and books at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu.

Showing sheep or goats can be lots of fun and very rewarding. However, there are risks related to showing your livestock. For instance, your animals may come in contact with animals from other farms that are ill or they may be shedding disease-causing pathogens into the environment. This checklist is designed to help you reduce the health risks of those animals that you are showing or plan to show.

Before the show season

  • Be observant of your sheep and goats on a daily basis.
  • Watch for and treat any signs of abnormal health conditions such as diarrhea, watery eyes, red eyes, sores, external parasites, loss of body condition, edema (swollen areas), bottle jaw, limping, abscesses, infected wounds (from ear tagging, docking, castration, and/or disbudding), lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, etc.
  • Vaccinate and boost for overeating disease and tetanus (CD&T). Follow label directions with the vaccine you use; initial and yearly “boosters” are usually suggested.
  • Discuss vaccination for rabies with your veterinarian.
  • Inspect each animal’s feet. Check for proper hoof growth and hoof symmetry as well as abnormalities such as swelling, cracking, inflammation, and abscesses, rotting tissue, putrid odor and pain.
  • Inspect each animal’s eyes. Check for clearness of each eye as well as abnormalities such as anemia, clouding, puss, excessive tearing, excessive redness and swelling
  • Inspect each animal’s teeth, mouth and tongue. Check for proper teeth/gum alignment and smoothness of jaw as well as abnormalities such as missing or broken teeth, swelling, blisters, sores, and lumps on the outer jaw and pain.
  • Feel each animal’s body (leg joints, muscles, udder of females, sheath and testicles of males) checking for lumps, bumps, swelling, inflammation, and any abnormalities.
  • Keep your livestock properly fed and watered. Do not overfeed. Provide the appropriate minerals — free choice.
  • If planning to show out of state, obtain a signed health certificate from your veterinarian. These certificates are good for thirty days. Plan accordingly and obtain an updated certificate as needed. Keep this certificate in a safe place such as a file folder with your show gear.
  • Clean and disinfect (or purchase new) halters, feed pans or tubs, portable hayrack or sack and water buckets.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect show box and all equipment.
  • Launder and line dry all show blankets and hoods.
  • Launder all of your clothing to be used before, during and after the show (overalls, coveralls, show clothing, etc.). Drying of laundered clothing in a clothes dryer on a “hot” setting for 30 to 60 minutes is a good disinfection technique. Line drying laundered clothing in direct sunlight can also be effective.
  • Clean and disinfect shoes, boots and other footwear.

Transporting livestock to and from each show

  • Make sure that the hauler has cleaned the transport area for the animals and it is freshly bedded. Visually inspect the area in which the animals are to be kept during transport.
  • Be observant of your sheep and/or goats before and during transport. If possible, occasionally check animals during transport making sure all animals are standing or are not being crushed or stepped upon by others.
  • Protect sheep and goats from direct wind in transport (truck or trailer). Minimize the amount of dust during transport by dampening excessively dry bedding. Consider using transport show blankets and hoods on your animals if appropriate.
  • Minimize stress on the animals to be transported. Keep animals out of direct sun and out of excessive heat or cold temperatures. Refrain from loud noises. Do not strike animals. Be calm in handling animals.
  • Provide ample air exchange (ventilation) for the animals in transport. Prevent excessive drafts into the area in which animals are kept.
  • Provide a dim light for livestock when transporting at night.
  • Bring your own feed (hay and grain), your own clean feed pans or tubs, your own clean water buckets.
  • Avoid transporting your animals with animals from other farms/sites. If comingling animals from other sites is unavoidable, make sure all other animals are in good health. Say something to a leader or your parents if your see a sick or unhealthy animals on board (or preparing to be boarded).
  • If transporting livestock with those from other farms, it is best to keep your animals separate from other animals by panels (solid panel preferred).

During the show or exhibition

  • Be observant of your animals on a regular basis.
  • Keep your animals separated from other animals when penned. Request a separate pen if necessary.
  • Avoid animal nose-to-nose contact with animals from other farms.
  • Keep your animals properly fed and watered. Do not overfeed. If you detect unclean water or manure or debris in water buckets, clean and refill the bucket(s) immediately. Keep your animals’ water and feed separate from those of other farms’ animals.
  • Keep your animals well bedded in a clean and dry environment.
  • Watch for any signs of illness or injury in your animals (as well as in those animals around yours). Report any ill or injured animal to a parent, club leader or the show superintendent.
  • Watch for and treat any signs of abnormal health conditions such as diarrhea, watery eyes, red eyes, sore mouth, external parasites, loss of body condition, edema (swollen areas), bottle jaw, limping, abscesses, open wounds, lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, etc.
  • Avoid using feed pans, feed tubs, water buckets, halters, trimming tables, foot shears, needles and other equipment or items from others. Bring and use your own gear. Keep your equipment clean.
  • Avoid handling animals owned by others. If this handling is necessary, either carry (or have readily available) a pair of clean examination gloves or have disinfectant wipes available for cleaning your hands.

When loading and transporting your animals to the next show or for your return trip home, follow the transport recommendations as outlined above.

Upon arrival at home

  • Inspect all of your animals that are returning home.
  • Place animals returning home into a quarantine pen for observation. Do not place them with others until they have been thoroughly inspected. They should be kept separate for at least one week, and longer if your suspect illness or injury.
  • Clean each foot by removing caked manure or mud with brush, soap, water and a pick if necessary. Soak each returning animal’s feet with a 10% bleach solution or a 10% zinc sulfate footbath solution.  Spray or douse each foot with a topical antibacterial solution such as Dr. Naylor’s ® Hoof ’n Heel.
  • Inspect the eyes of each animal.
  • Inspect each animal’s teeth, mouth & tongue.
  • Feel each animal’s body (leg joints, muscles, udder on females, sheath on males).
  • Watch for and treat any signs of abnormal health conditions such as diarrhea, watery eyes, red eyes, sore mouth, external parasites, loss of body condition, edema (swollen areas), bottle jaw, limping, abscesses, lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, etc.
  • Keep your animals comfortable.
  • Clean and disinfect all equipment brought to the show.
  • Clean and disinfect shoes and other footwear before entering your own fields and barns.
  • Launder and line dry all clothing that you used when you were away.
  • Record or make note of any abnormalities or any treatment that is provided to your returning animals. Consider taking photos of abnormalities if appropriate.

Reviewed by Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, DVM, PhD and Thomas P. Hodgman, Wildlife Biologist and 4-H parent.


Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2015

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