Announcements have been made from several commercial pork processing plants indicting that they will be eliminating the purchase of pigs that have been fed ractopamine from their markets. This decision is driven by the restrictions placed on pork products destined for export markets. Due to these new stipulations the swine committee has decided to make some changes to their rules for exhibition to the Cass County Fair. For the 2020 exhibition year, pigs that have been fed a ractopamine product at any time will not be allowed to exhibit at the fair. Youth exhibitors will have be required to complete the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals program (YQCA). These changes will continue to allow buyers of the pork projects at the fair access to resale markets for this year and hopefully beyond. This
Ractopamine is a beta-agonist commonly used in production that mimics the effects of adrenalin and promotes lean muscle growth, and even though it can be fed any time, is typically fed a few weeks prior to slaughter. This feed additive has been approved for use in swine diets for several years, with domestic markets setting tolerance guidelines. Common names include Paylean, Explode, XXL and Lean Maximer, among others. Beth Ferry, MSU Extension swine specialist states, “with our export pork sales reflecting over 25% of our markets commercial processors need to reduce the risk of distributing a product that does not meet the export market guideline. By eliminating the use of ractopamine products in swine diets, they have done just that.”
Ractopamine may be mixed in feed, or top-dressed, so be sure to talk to your feed dealer to see exactly what is in your feed program. It is important that youth exhibitors are aware of what is in the feed that they are purchasing for their projects. Reading the feed ingredient label and having conversations with your feed supplier will help identify any feed additives that may not be allowed.
Hailey Harman, Cass County 4-H Coordinator states, “The swine industry is constantly changing and our swine committee is doing a great job of doing their best to remain proactive for our fair.”
Additional rules as they will appear in the 2020 Cass County fair book:
Pigs fed ractopamine (in feed or top-dressed) at any time during their growth will not be allowed to be exhibited at the Cass County Fair.
All exhibitors and/or their parent/guardian will be required to sign an affidavit stating that at no time has their pig(s) been fed ractopamine. Exhibitors or parents not completing this affidavit by weigh-in day at the fair will not be allowed to exhibit their animal(s).
All youth exhibitors ages 8-21 will be required to complete Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) prior to the fair (deadline date TBA).
All pigs will receive an individual identification tattoo upon leaving the Cass County Fair to allow for traceability back to the exhibitor of that animal.
All pigs exhibited at the Cass County Fair are subject to testing for usage of unapproved products. Please refer to the 2020 health requirements for livestock exhibited in Michigan through the MDARD website.
The ½-inch hair length will be strictly enforced.
Among the new requirements for swine exhibitors is certification in the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) program. This program is a national, multi-specie quality assurance program for youth aged 8-21. It focuses on three pillars: food safety, animal well-being and character development. Cost for the class is $12 if taken on-line and $5 if taken during a scheduled class with an instructor. Exhibitors should watch for class dates or call their local MSU Extension office for more information regarding the classes.
Harman states, “Cass, Berrien and Van Buren Counties will all be holding educational certification classes for all youth swine exhibitors, whether they belong to 4-H or are open youth. In Cass County, there will be two opportunities, one being during the Showing Livestock…Fun, Fair and in My Future! program which will be held in June. I anticipate the kids attending this program will be able to certify for free. Information on this fun-filled educational program will be coming out shortly from the MSU Extension office of Cass County.”