Drug testing in show animals | Living the Country Life

Drug testing in show animals

When livestock shows are in full swing around the country, many animals are tested for drug residues. Be aware of the drug protocol guidelines for your show.

Radio interview source: Dr. Jodi Sterle, Animal Science Professor, Iowa State University

Livestock are given medications: for their health or to enhance performance. Animals in livestock shows may be tested for traces of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
Jodi Sterle is a professor of animal science at Iowa State University. She says there are several reasons for drug testing, including to level the playing field amongst exhibitors, insure the safety of the food supply, and educate exhibitors on proper drug use.
Sterle says each show has its own protocol when testing for drug residues.
"Most shows are going to do winners, either class winners or champions, depends on how deep they're going to go, and randoms in a urine test," she says. "When I was in Texas working with the major shows, those animals did not go back to their pens, they went right to the vet clinic, and a urine sample was collected. The exhibitor was there, an adult parent or guardian was there, and the veterinarian was there. It was basically like a chain of evidence."
If drug residues are found, penalties may include being banned from all future shows. 
In the majority of the cases, a positive test is unintentional. It may be from the owner's lack of knowledge about the regulations, or the amount of time that was needed to allow the substance to clear the animal's system. Sterle says it's important to talk to your veterinarian. 
"Even on over-the-counter drugs or animal health products, we always try to involve our veterinarian," says Sterle. "Our veterinarian needs to know that not only is he treating them to make them feel better, but we are potentially going to the show in the future. A veterinarian isn't always thinking about show animals, they're thinking about treating that animal, making him feel better. So sometimes, those positives show up, even when the exhibitors went through a veterinarian."
Keep track of all medications so you know exactly how long it will take for them to be out of the animal's system by show time. 

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