Before the Delaware State Fair officially opened its gates Thursday afternoon, the agriculture section on the grounds in Harrington was already bustling with activity – and had been since early Thursday morning. Competition livestock is permitted early access to the fairgrounds to prepare for the many visitors that descend on the fair from around the state. But before anyone else sees them, the livestock most likely received a call from one of their most visitors; an animal health inspector from the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Inspections insure animal health at Delaware State Fair.
DFM News visited the Delaware State Fairgrounds to see animal health inspectors in action.
Everyday during the fair, animal health inspectors work around the clock inspecting every breed that is brought to the Harrington fairgrounds. This crucial work doesn’t stop until every animal leaves.
“With thousands of animals from across the state brought together in close quarters for 10 days at the state fair, we rely pretty heavily on our inspectors to identify and signs of illness quickly,” said Delaware State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, who heads the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section. “With 500 pigs under one roof, a single case of contagious disease could be a major health threat to the health of all animals involved.
While constant inspections during the fair are essential to ensure the health of the animals, many inspections occur long before the animals reach the fair. “We’ve also checked these animals over the past 3 or 4 weeks at home to make sure everything is healthy at home as well,” said animal health inspector Bob Moore. “If there is any problems at home… that might be contagious to other animals, we just advise them to stay home.”
While these inspections help to prevent major disease outbreaks, they also have lead to improved relationships between farmers and the state’s animal health inspectors. “We want them to know our inspectors and staff and feel like they can call on us for problems,” said Moore.
The inspections are provided free of charge and are not limited to competition livestock. Department of Agriculture inspectors also check other animals at the fair, including those at involved in circus acts, the petting zoo and pony rides.