While most pig exhibitors attend county fairs with the expectation their animal will be sold to market, it is now becoming a certainty. Because of concerns about the spread of a deadly virus, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or PED, county fairs have adopted a terminal show policy. That means a pig shown at a county fair must be sold to market at the shows end and cannot be taken back to a farm.
“All the county fairs were told by the state that they would be terminal shows, that nobody wants to take the disease home,” says Gary Georgeson, President of the Columbia County Pork Partners.
The PED virus has had a significant impact on pig populations in the United States in the last two years. While adult pigs will show flu-like symptoms from the virus and eventually recover; the outcome is very different for baby pigs.
“If they are still on the sow the death loss is pretty much running 100 percent on the babies. There is no vaccine for it at this point. It has no effect on humans and no effect on the pork that you buy in the store,” says Georgeson.
Because the virus is highly contagious the terminal show policy was adopted in attempt to prevent the further spread of the disease from one farm to another.
Because some exhibitors bring their pigs to county fairs with the intention of then taking them to other swine shows or a state fair, a decrease is being seen in the number of pigs being shown.
“It has affected the number at all of the fairs that I’ve dealt with in our area which is Dane, Columbia, Lodi Fair and Sauk County. The numbers are down,” says Georgeson.