Fall is upon us as the 2015 Michigan Fair season wraps up this week and next. Cotton candy and other delicious snacks were consumed and many 4-H members exhibited projects throughout the state. From basket making to food preparation to animal projects, youth exhibited their months of hard work and showcased many of the valuable life skills, such as problem solving and team work, they learned throughout the project preparation. Now that the ribbons have been passed out, it’s time for those youth exhibiting animals to wrap up their projects.
Often times when returning from fairs, we tend to be more than a little tired. Once that wears off, it is important to do some fall “spring cleaning” before the cold weather hits. Remember, anything you do now will put you farther ahead when it comes to the rush of getting new animals, especially in cold weather conditions. Follow these three concepts to wrap-up this year and be better prepared for your new animals projects.
1. Clean what you took to the fair
Whenever taking animals to an event, there is always a possibility of bringing back more than you think via a fomite. Fomites are objects such as a car, boots, trailers and much more that can help carry pathogens from one location to another. We often think about making sure to wash the animals if they are returning them home, but many times we forget about the things we took to the fair to support our animal project. Water buckets, feed pans, brushes, chip forks, shovels, chutes and anything else you may have taken to the fair, depending on the animal species, should be properly cleaned by scrubbing with soap and water. Additionally, it can be amazing the things you will find in a tack box. Make sure to remove things that will freeze and put them in a good location for the winter seasons.
2. Clean your barns, trailers and cages
In addition to the things you took to the fair, think about what else remains. Trailers, cages and the actual barn or facility the animals are housed in is also important to clean. Removing manure from walks or floors is a lot easier in the fall versus waiting for spring. Taking advantage of warm weather days at beginning of fall helps to move you forward. Completely cleaning out barns and trailers to start fresh with new animals is one way to thoroughly clean facilities. This is also a great time to organize the barn. Although they don’t need to look like a school desk, barns should have some sort of order to be able to better recognize and prevent concerns as well as make it easier to notice when something is wrong. Repairs to buildings should also be done at this time when able.
3. Disinfect where you can
Removing dirt and debris is a great start of having a clean facility that is ready for new animals. When able, disinfecting facilities and equipment goes a long way to prevent future animal illness. Parents/guardians may be especially needed in this step. To disinfect, utilize disinfecting wipes such as Clorox or Lysol mix up bleach solution (1:32 ratio) as a disinfectant. Both cleaning options can be utilized to allow more youth to safely be involved in the disinfecting process. Once items are washed and disinfected, allow equipment to dry out in the sun.
For more ideas on how to practice biosecurity and prevent diseases to be better prepared for new animals, consider utilizing Animal Science Anywhere lessons or the Michigan State University Extension website for animal science content