Contestants at the Washington County Fair bring livestock to these competitions confident that their animals’ health will be protected. Greg Breene of Breene Acres in West Greenwich, RI said, “State Veterinarian Dr. Scott Marshall is very thorough.” Even when competitors produce all required paperwork, Dr. Marshall personally inspected every animal. Like other competitors, Breene brought his dairy cows to the fairgrounds the day before the fair’s opening day.
Dairy Intermediate Showman winner, Maggie LaPrise of EMMA Acres in Exeter, RI said, “The Big E is the only event I have seen with more thorough vet checks.”
According to Rhode Island regulations, all livestock being shown that are imported from another state need Certificates of Veterinary Inspection to help ensure that only healthy animals enter the state for exhibition. Some species of animals also have testing requirements for entry into a Rhode Island show. All cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, cats and ferrets must also have rabies certificates. When other species are exhibited, and there is not a licensed rabies vaccine for that species, signs must be posted stating that those animals may pose a rabies risk.
Livestock must have clear identification such as ear tags; poultry may have leg banding. Horses’ and ponies’ microchip, digital photo and physical description must match their Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) or Coggins test.
Cattle and goats must test negative for tuberculosis within two months before to the first show in Rhode Island this year. If not tested, the animal must originate from a certified tuberculosis-free herd within the year. Cattle must also test negative to a brucellosis test within the month or originate in a certified brucellosis-free herd free within the year. Cattle under four months old, steers, spayed heifers (within that year) and brucellosis calfhood vaccinated cattle are exempt from brucellosis testing.
Out-of-state cattle, sheep, goats and swine from regions with bluetongue and anaplasmosis must test negative for these diseases within a month of coming to Rhode Island.
Vacant pens, alleyways or barriers can prevent goats and sheep participating in the voluntary Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program from contacting non-participating animals or excrement. Goats from a herd with suspected or confirmed scrapie will be excluded. Exhibition goats and sheep cannot have contact with kidding does or lambing ewes.
Goats under four months old and wethers were exempt from brucellosis testing. All out-of-state goats from regions with bluetongue and anaplasmosis must test negative.
Sheep from flocks with confirmed sore mouth or which have had sore mouth vaccinations may not enter unless more than two months have passed since sore mouth symptoms were seen or vaccines given.
Swine over six months old from regions with brucellosis and pseudorabies must test negative for these diseases within a month of coming to Rhode Island.
Out-of-state poultry must have written proof that the individual bird or flock of origin tested negative for pullorum-typhoid within the past year. Appropriate certificates include National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) cards, test results or health certificates.
Out-of-state horses and ponies must test negative for EIA within the past year.
A veterinarian inspector finding disease symptoms will isolate and exclude livestock from competitions or exhibitions. Symptoms could include diarrhea, vomiting, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, cough, lameness, skin lesions, loss of hair or feathers, external parasites, neurological signs, fever, lethargy, depression, difficult breathing, abscesses or growths and emaciation. Animals with known diseases exposure would also be excluded from exhibiting or competing.
To further protect livestock and public health, the Washington County Fair offered hand washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers near each barn, pen and competition arena. Signage encouraged visitors to clean their hands before leaving the area.
Many livestock pens had a second fence to keep visitors from handling animals. Signs in each area asked visitors not to touch livestock.