Enhancing Biosecurity at Fairs and Shows

Photograph is copyright Luc Asbury and is used under Creative Commons licensing.


This webinar was presented by Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming Area Educator and EDEN Chair-elect, and Curt Emanuel, Purdue Extension Educator and Boone County Extension Director. Cotton has been with Extension since 1993 and involved in disasters since 1972. His emergency/disaster roles have ranged from medical technician and firefighter to ICS/NIMS instructor and disaster exercise facilitator.  Emanuel is a former professional horse trainer. Since joining Purdue Extension in 1990, he has been involved in emergency and disaster planning at the local and state levels.

“Biosecurity at fairs and shows really begins well before the events. Animals should be vaccinated and receive health checks on a regular schedule. Their owners should be aware of disease risks and know how to care for the animals if they become ill or injured,”  says Cotton. “Fairs are very public events and generate a good bit of interaction between people and animals. It is vital to their good health that biosecurity measures are practiced before, during and after these events.”

Emanuel notes that the potential for spreading disease at fairs and shows depends on those practices. “Exposing healthy animals and people to sick animals can lead to a disaster far wider than the local event. All animals should be identified and their owners should present documentation of the animals’ health checks when they arrive for inspection prior to the event. There should be an established protocol for the inspections as well as a procedure for housing and handling the animals during the event. In addition, there should be an animal biosecurity team on hand to take action if there are causes for concern.”

Susan Kerr is a Washington State University Extension Livestock and Dairy Specialist. She moderated the session. “Many types of disease issues can arise at fairs and shows. Many of these problems can be prevented if proper biosecurity measures are established and enforced. Scott Cotton and Curt Emanuel will help us be more aware of the risks associated with animal diseases in public venues and show us how we can help reduce those risks.”

This recording is available and is brought to you by the Extension Disaster Education Network, an eXtension Community of Practice

Zoonotic Disease and Agriculture

Cows in Field

(Source: Penn State Ag Safety and Health)

Use the following format to cite this article:

Zoonotic disease and agriculture. (2013). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/67489/zoonotic-disease-and-agriculture.


Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are diseases that can be transmitted from insects or vertebrate animals to humans. Zoonoses are caused by bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, or parasites, which are often part of an animal’s natural flora but cause disease in humans. Infections can result from direct contact with animals or their products such as manure or placenta. Direct transmission can also occur through consumption of animal products (e.g., raw meat, raw milk, etc.) or through an animal bite. Humans can also become indirectly infected by contact with contaminated soil, food (e.g., produce), or water. Farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, and other agricultural workers have a higher risk of contracting zoonoses because of their close contact with animals.

Good personal hygiene is a primary line of defense against the transmission of zoonoses (e.g., influenza). For example, if your hands have been contaminated with bacteria, and you do not wash your hands, you could introduce the bacteria into your body when eating or rubbing your eyes. Protect yourself from most zoonotic diseases by practicing good hygiene after handling animals or their waste by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds and use a paper towel to dry your hands.

In addition to proper hand washing, the following recommendations can further reduce your risk for zoonoses:

Personal protective equipment: Use appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., waterproof apron, rubber gloves, face shields, etc.) when completing high-risk activities (e.g., handling a placenta after birth).

Work clothes – Have designated work clothes and boots that you use specifically for farm and ranch jobs, and regularly wash these clothes.

Work space – Disinfect and maintain a clean work space and environment.

Wound care – If you have a cut or abrasion, properly clean and cover the area with a waterproof bandage to reduce contaminants from entering your body through the wound. Wear gloves over bandaged wounds on the hands. Do not work with animals if your wound cannot be completely covered or is actively bleeding.  

Disposal of medical waste – When completing herd health responsibilities (e.g., handling blood samples), properly label and dispose of waste (e.g., syringes) rather than using your domestic waste disposal. Check state guidelines for specific disposal requirements.

Monitor herd health – Complete recommended immunizations and monitor all animals on your farm or ranch for disease and stress. Isolate and treat sick animals.  

Rodent reduction – Control or eliminate rat and mouse populations, which can carry and transmit disease.

Visitor education – Inform visitors about the importance of good hygiene practices on your farm or ranch. Provide hand washing facilities (running water, soap, and paper towels are preferred over hand sanitizer). Use signage to encourage visitors to practice good hand hygiene particularly after visiting with animals.   

Food safety issues – Have designated eating areas on the farm away from animals. Properly cook meat, avoid cross contamination (contamination between foods), and do not consume raw meat and milk.


Click HERE to be directed to the publication titled Disease from Select Zoonotic Agents to learn more about the routes of transmission, type of diseases, animal carriers, incubation period, and clinical signs.


Use the following format to cite this article:

Zoonotic disease and agriculture. (2013). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/67489/zoonotic-disease-and-agriculture.




Disease from select zoonotic agents. (2005) Iowa State University. The Center for Food Security & Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Zoonoses/assets/English/DiseaseFromSelectZoonoticAgentsWallChartWebVersion.pdf.

Harshman, W., Yoder, A., Hilton, J., & Murphy, D. (2013) Animal, wildlife, and insect related hazards. HOSTA Task Sheet 3.14. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/sites/default/files/NSTMOP%20Task%20Sheets%20Se….

Murdoch, B. (2007) Zoonoses – animal diseases that may also affect humans. Department of Primary Industries. Victoria, Australia. Retrieved from http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/pests-diseases-and-weeds/anima….


Reviewed and Summarized by:
Glen Blahey, Canadian Agricultural Safety Association GBlahey@casa.acsa.ca

Lynn Z. Blevins, University of Vermont lblevins@uvm.edu
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University – lmf8@psu.edu
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University (has since retired)
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center – aaron.yoder@unmc.edu


Livestock Trailer Safety

Photo of herd of beef cows

Photo provided by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH)


Use the following format to cite this article:

Livestock trailer safety. (2012) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/64391/livestock-trailer-safety


Towing a livestock trailer is a common practice on most farms and ranches. Livestock trailers, also referred to as stock trailers, are used to move livestock between locations, haul show animals to county fairs, and transport animals to processing plants.

To safely tow a livestock trailer, your truck must be capable of towing the weight of the trailer plus the added weight of the livestock. Check with the manufacturer to determine the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW), which includes the tow vehicle’s weight plus the loaded trailer weight. The GCVW rating can be located in the vehicle’s serial number or in the operator’s manual. When calculating the weight, remember to include the weight for fuel, passengers, and cargo.

The manual for the trailer should specify a maximum tongue weight—the amount of the trailer’s weight that presses down on the truck’s trailer hitch when using a bumper pull trailer or the truck’s bed when using a gooseneck trailer. The majority of the weight (85% to 90%) should be carried over the axles so that only 10% to 15% of the weight is carried on the tongue.

Before using a livestock trailer, check both the truck and the trailer to ensure that they are in good working condition. In addition, take the following actions:

  • Latches and safety chains: Double check the latches and the safety chains and cables between the truck and trailer to make sure they are fastened securely. Make sure you are using a ball that is the correct size for the trailer.
  • Trailer brakes: Inspect the breakaway cable or brake system. Manufacturers recommend that any trailer exceeding 1,000 lb. have its own brake system, but you should also check state regulations regarding brake system requirements.
  • Wheel bearings: Repack the wheel bearings on a regular basis and replace as necessary.
  • Electric Wiring and Connections: Make sure all wiring is in good condition. Trailer connectors should match the truck connectors. Check to make sure that all the lights (brake light, turn signals, and tail lights) on both the truck and the trailer are working. Make sure the electrical connection is securely plugged into the truck.
  • Tires: Examine the tires for signs of dry rot, wear, or damage, and make sure that all tires, including the spare and inside dual tires, have the correct air pressure. Consider replacing tires at least every five years, regardless of use.
  • Lug nuts: Inspect the lug nuts regularly to ensure they are properly tightened.
  • Trailer: Inspect the trailer floor to make sure it is sturdy and clean. If more traction is needed, install rubber matting. Consider replacing floor boards that are showing signs of wear or rot.
  • Battery: If you use battery-powered accessories, ensure that your emergency battery is charged and ready for use.
  • Brake controllers: Test your brake controllers and make adjustments as needed depending on the weight of your trailer.

    • The first step in testing your electric brakes is to locate the controller or adjustor, which is typically located beneath the instrument panel on the tow vehicle. The controller has an adjustment button (+ or -) and sliding lever. You may need to use the controller to increase braking power (+) for heavier loads or decrease braking power (-) for lighter loads.
    • Once you have located the controller, slowly move forward on a level surface and shift the tow vehicle transmission to neutral. Use the slide lever on the brake controller to bring the load to a stop using the trailer brakes.
    • If the trailer brakes cause the truck to jerk, your trailer brakes are adjusted too high. Lower the braking power on the trailer until the trailer comes to a smooth stop. If the truck and loaded trailer do not slow to a stop, the brake controller must be adjusted to a higher level.

Loading the Trailer

Loading animals into a trailer can sometimes be a frustrating task, but there are steps you can take to make the task safer and, ideally, easier. For example, lower the back of the trailer as much as possible so that animals may step into the trailer without having to step up. Remember to be patient and calm during the loading process so that you do not scare or stress the animals. Additional recommendations include the following:

  • Weight distribution: When using a bumper pull trailer, place the heaviest animals in the front of the axles. Load older and larger animals first, followed by younger and smaller animals.
  • Ties: When tying animals in the trailer, use slip knots and tie securely at head height in the trailer.
  • Visibility: Make sure animals can see you when you enter and exit the trailer, when you are in the trailer, and when you tie or untie them.
  • Squeeze and pinch points: Remain alert to the danger of being pinned between animals and trailer sides and being pinched by the trailer gate.
  • Gates: Once the animals are loaded into the trailer, quickly close the gates and ensure that they are secure.
  • Protrusions: Inspect the trailer for broken or sharp objects protruding into the trailer. These items should be repaired immediately to prevent an injury to an animal or operator.


When driving on any roadway, always maintain a safe speed, keep your headlights on, and stay alert. Your braking time increases when you are towing a full trailer, so maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and leave adequate room to stop. Plan your travel time carefully, and be aware that weather can cause delays by impacting road conditions and animal comfort.

Do not lock the the trailer when you are transporting animals. In the event of an emergency, rescue workers will be able to more quickly gain access to an unlocked trailer. For your animals’ safety, do not allow them to hang their heads out of the trailer, where they could be injured by flying objects.


View the video below about cattle trailer safety from Right from the Start: Safety Awareness for the Next Generation of Livestock Producers series from the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education.

View the video below about horse trailer safety from Right from the Start: Safety Awareness for the Next Generation of Livestock Producers series from the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education.

For more information about cattle handling, click here to view the article “Beef Cattle Handling Safety.”


Use the following format to cite this article:

Livestock trailer safety. (2012) Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/64391/livestock-trailer-safety.




Harshman, W., Yoder, A., Hilton, J., & Murphy, D. (2011) Loading and towing equipment on a trailer. HOSTA Take Sheet 6.6. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from http://articles.extension.org/sites/default/files/Version%203.%20January….

Livestock trailer safety. (2012) Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education. Retrieved fromhttp://www.icontact-archive.com/azw1uozM3S6dBZdhk63AHPzSSxpsq733?w=3.

Ross, D. (2011) Take livestock transportation safety seriously. DairyHerd Network. Retrieved from http://www.dairyherd.com/dairy-news/Take-livestock-transportation-safety-seriously-133954798.html.

Smith, K. (n.d.) 14 trailer safety tips. Hobby Farms.com. Retrieved from http://www.hobbyfarms.com/farm-equipment-and-tools/trailer-safety.aspx.


Contributors, reviewers and summarized by:
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University – lmf8@psu.edu
William C. Harshman, Pennsylvania State University (Has since retired)
Kerri Ebert, Kansas State University  kebert@ksu.edu
Jimmy Maass, Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance (Has since retired)
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University (Has since retired)
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center – aaron.yoder@unmc.edu