This article was written by Megan Nielson, former 4-H Youth Livestock Field Specialist.
South Dakota 4-H is dedicated to providing a safe environment for youth involved in livestock projects to engage in active learning as they apply proper animal management skills utilizing current quality assurance and animal welfare measures. Due to increased concerns about the spread of disease in the swine industry, further awareness about biosecurity and the development of proactive measures to decrease the co-mingling of animals in non-terminal events will be implemented for the 2014 4-H year. South Dakota 4-H, under the guidance of the South Dakota Animal Industry Board and South Dakota Pork Producers Council, is removing the requirement for 4-H youth to attend county weigh-ins to identify hogs for ownership. In addition, 4-H youth may choose to attend 2014 County Fairs and or Achievement Days with their market swine projects however, they will not be required to participate in order to qualify for State Fair exhibition.
4-H youth are a dynamic part of the swine industry’s future and are encouraged to continue participating in exhibition events where they can showcase valuable skills gained from taking care of animals. However, the associated risk of spreading disease that comes from bringing different animals together must be understood and proper biosecurity measures must be applied to minimize threats to swine health. These new policies for potential State Fair 4-H exhibitors are not meant to limit the youth’s involvement within the swine project but offer an alternative to families that choose to follow stricter biosecurity guidelines within their own swine operations.
Potential State Fair 4-H Exhibitors are advised to contact their county 4-H office to receive proper animal identification materials and will need to self-identify their market hogs with an official 4-H Green Tag and submit a DNA hair sample. Pigs will not be required to come to a central weigh in site to be identified as in previous years. As a result to not initially weighing in pigs, there will also be no Rate of Gain Contest at the 2014 South Dakota State Fair for 4-H market swine.
Market swine entries for the State Fair 4-H Division will not be required to have received a purple ribbon at a County Fair/4-H Achievement Day but must be properly identified for State Fair and listed on the youth’s ownership verification affidavit. 4-H Exhibitors will still be limited to two entries per division in the market swine show as counted towards their ten entries throughout the State Fair. County Fair and Achievement Days are advised to follow the regulations for exhibition of animals published by the South Dakota Animal Industry Board if they choose to offer 4-H swine shows at their respective events.
Biosecurity is the first priority and it is found in the first of ten Good Production Practices we teach in Youth Pork Quality Assurance. We encourage our 4-H youth and volunteers involved in the swine project to review the biosecurity information provided on the National Pork Board website. There are many free resources available that have done a great job of outlining the many precautions those interacting with pigs should be taking into consideration. The more effort we take to learn about swine health and practice biosecurity the more we help reduce the chance of disease spread. South Dakota 4-H shares this responsibility and will continue its efforts “To Make the Best, Better” for our youth.
Contact the South Dakota State 4-H Office with any questions at 605.688.4167
How to 4-H Green Tag Market Swine, South Dakota 4-H
Market Swine Self-Identification Process, South Dakota 4-H
Swine Hair Sample Collection Instructions, Animal ID