The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets works closely with and supports the multiple fairs and exhibitions that showcase Vermont's livestock and poultry. In order to protect Vermont's resident livestock herd, members of the public, and other animals that are at the fair or exhibition, Animal Health Section veterinarians and specialists are often present on the fairgrounds to monitor for compliance with important animal health requirements.
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Vermont's fairs, shows and exhibitions allow the public an opportunity to be exposed to livestock and poultry with which they might not otherwise interact. Managers, Superintendents and other officials at these events must take care to ensure that animals are handled and housed appropriately and that they meet the animal health requirements for entry onto the grounds. There are many positive benefits of human-animal contact; however, infectious disease outbreaks related to such contacts are reported every year throughout the United States. Fortunately, there are resources available for use by producers, animal exhibitors, public health officials, veterinarians, and others that provide guidelines to minimize risks associated with animals in public settings. Fair managers should review the Vermont Animal Health Standards and the documents prior to their event to ensure they are taking proper precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of animal disease. In order to minimize the spread of animal disease at fairs and exhibitions, exhibitors should consult the resources listed below:
- Vermont Animal Health Standards
- Livestock Exhibit Best Practices
- Animal Contact Compendium, National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians
- Compendium Toolkit
- Farms, Fairs, and Fun - Be Sure to Wash Your Hands!
- Measures to minimize influenza transmission at swine exhibitions
- Checklist for exhibitions to minimize influenza transimmsion
- Information regarding the USDA National Poultry Improvement Plan
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension Publication of on the Pros and Cons of Poultry Swaps
Animals at the fair from out of state: The requirements pertaining to importation of livestock and poultry into Vermont from another state are addressed in Rule # 98074: Rules Governing the Importation of Domestic Animals, Including Livestock and Poultry.
Animals at the fair from within Vermont: All livestock being transported within the State must satisfy the requirements for official identification for interstate movement under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Disease Traceability rule, 9 C.F.R. part 86 prior to leaving the property of origin, regardless of the reason for movement or duration of absence from the property. Livestock include dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and camelids. Examples of livestock movement within the state that this requirement applies to include transport from the farm of origin to a slaughter facility, movement to a new farm location, and transport to a fair or exhibit.
The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets conducts free testing for avian influenza and Salmonella pullorum at fairs, bird swaps and other poultry commingling events. When arriving at the bird swap, it is the bird owner’s responsibility to check in at the Animal Health Section bird testing station and have all eligible birds tested before selling them at the event.
Salmonella pullorum testing
Salmonella testing is required for exhibition or sale of domestic fowl at any fair, show, meet or any event where such fowl are assembled. This testing entails drawing a small droplet of blood from the underside of the bird’s wing and using a stained antigen reagent that will react immediately if the Salmonella bacterium is present. Because animal traceability is an important component of this testing, all birds tested are provided with a metal leg band, which is numbered for tracking purposes and is linked to the owner of record.
Birds that are required to be tested include turkeys, chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks, and pheasants which are twenty (20) weeks of age and older. Waterfowl such as geese and ducks are not subject to the PT testing requirement.
Avian Influenza Testing
Avian influenza (AI) is a contagious viral disease that affects wild and domestic birds. AI infection in domestic chicken, duck and turkey flocks can result in high morbidity and mortality. More information about this disease can be found on the the National AI Surveillance Program website. Testing for avian influenza entails swabbing the inside of the bird’s mouth and sending the swabs to a laboratory for analysis.
Many Vermont Fairs host horse and pony pulling events in order to expose the public to working draft equine animals. The Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets works closely with Fair officials to ensure that horses entering Vermont for purposes of competing in Horse Pulls do so legally and in a way that minimizes the risk of the spread of contagious equine diseases. To review Vermont's equine import requirements, refer to the equine section of the import regulations.
Equine animals originating from out of state must also travel with proof of negative EIA status as evidenced by Coggin's testing within one year of entry into the state. Review Vermont's regulations pertaining to control of EIA.
The Animal Health Section coordinates with Fair officials and private veterinarians to ensure the random drug testing of horses and ponies entered into pulling events. The use of performance enhancing drugs in pulling horses is illegal in Vermont, and violators are subject to administrative penalties and other restrictions, including but not limited to a ban from participation in future Vermont pulling events. View the rules pertaining to this issue.