For the second time in less than five years, the viability of the dairy show and fair season is up in the air because of the threat of disease. And as the industry navigates the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak, America’s Dairyland announced this week that lactating dairy cattle must secure a negative test for Influenza A before being moved to fairs or exhibitions within the state.

The directive from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) goes into effect on June 19. The test must come from an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) lab, with the sample collected no more than seven days before animal movement.

At NAHLN labs, these tests are available at no cost through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Individuals are also eligible to be reimbursed for the cost of veterinary collection and shipping of samples.

There have been no confirmed cases of HPAI in Wisconsin, but it has been detected in bordering Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota. The DATCP announcement states that the order will remain in effect until 60 days after the last detection of the disease in cattle in the U.S.

USDA has implemented regulations for the movement of cattle between states. If a lactating animal is to be transported across a state line for a show, it must have a negative HPAI test within seven days of movement, and if the show lasts less than 10 days, that same test can be used to return home. Any milking cows that test positive for HPAI may not be transported between states for 30 days.

However, movement within a state will be determined by state health officials. Michigan, which has recorded the highest number of HPAI cases, has prohibited lactating dairy cattle and those in the last two months of pregnancy from being exhibited at any shows or fairs until the state observes no new cases for 60 days. The last Michigan case recorded by USDA was detected on May 31.

In addition to these state orders put in place so far, some counties and local organizations have reduced this year’s dairy shows to heifer-only competitions in an effort to limit HPAI spread.

While the disease is not nearly as damaging in cattle as it has been to poultry, dairy cattle that become infected with HPAI have been reported to have depressed feed intake, off-color or thick milk, and reduced milk production. In some cases, milk yield does not recover, forcing farms to cull cows. And though the chances of transmission to humans is very low, people who work with dairy cattle that become infected are at an elevated risk. Since the disease was identified in late March, three dairy workers have been confirmed to have had HPAI.

This month, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wyoming have joined the ranks of states confirmed with HPAI in dairy cattle, bringing the total to 12 across the country. APHIS has recommended that health officials and show organizers take steps to minimize the potential for HPAI spread.

For more details on how to prepare and prevent disease transmission at fairs, APHIS has offered these guidelines. For exhibitors, best practices include:

  • Know the requirements for interstate and state-specific animal movement.
  • Know the symptoms of HPAI in dairy cattle.
  • Clean and disinfect the equipment you are bringing to the show.
  • Do not transport animals from multiple locations in the same trailer.
  • Keep copies of veterinary papers, vaccination records, and test results on hand.
  • Observe cattle regularly and immediately remove any that show signs of illness.
  • Follow the event’s guidelines for appropriate biosecurity and milk disposal.
  • Do not share tools or milking equipment with other exhibitors.
  • When animals return home, isolate and observe them for 30 days before allowing them to rejoin the herd. Work with your vet if any symptoms develop.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
June 13, 2024
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