Ogle County Fair Takes Precautions for Pig Virus

OGLE COUNTY (WIFR) -- Changes are coming to many county fairs as hog farmers try to prevent the spread of a deadly virus that's already killed hundreds of thousands of pigs.

Commercial hog farmer Brian Duncan takes every safety measure imaginable; he disinfects his trailer and his clothes, and he even burns his shoes.

He does this to keep his animals safe. Last spring, Duncan lost more than 1,000 pigs to the virus known as Porcine Endemic Diarrhea, or PED, and says recovering has been a challenge.

"We're through it and over it and we're back to full production," Duncan said. "Our sows now have immunity to the strain that we had, but you worry because it's a virus. It can change so you worry about variants so it's been challenging dealing with that."

Duncan's daughter will be showing off one of their pigs at this week's 4-H show at the Ogle County Fair and organizers are taking every precaution to prevent animals from contracting the virus.

"The swine committee is taking additional precautions," said Harlan Holm, President of the Ogle County Fair Association. "Generally in the past, they have provided the equipment for the clean-up, the maneur spreader, the skid loader and things like that. This year, they are getting that equipment from someone that does not raise hogs."

According to Holm, the farm association's veterinarian is also warning entrants not to bring their hogs back home to prevent the infection from spreading. And that's advice Duncan is taking.

"Our hogs won't obviously never come home from the 4-H Fair," said Duncan. "They go right to market, which to me I think every show should be a terminal show. As a commercial producer, I want to do everything I can to lessen the risk of diseases running around the countryside, but it's a very rewarding time for my kids. My kids enjoy it and it was part of my youth growing up showing hogs so I want them to be able to do that too."

Holm says that even with the risks of PED, the 4-H show has not seen a drop in entrants for this year's fair.

The Ogle County Fair kicks off on Wednesday and runs through next Sunday in Oregon.


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