For many of us who were raised on farms and ranches, exhibiting livestock at our county fair, state fair and national shows is how we spent our childhoods. I know I’ve visited before about my family’s operation, RJ Show Cattle.
Not all animals are used to pint-sized kiddos being around.
But sometimes it’s hard for us, the livestock producers, to realize that not everyone has grown up the way we have. Those that come through the fair may have never seen a cow before, touched a pig or fed a sheep. Personally, I’ve done all of those things countless times, so some of the novelty is lost.
Don’t get me wrong, being at a fair excites me too! But I don’t want anyone or any animal to get hurt during the process.
Occasionally, I’ve been annoyed with the “city people” who come to the fair. You know whom I’m talking about … the ones running down the aisles, asking to pet the horses and feeding cotton candy to the goats.
Then I realized that every once in a while, we (livestock producers) needed to take a step back and put ourselves in their shoes.
Celeste Laurent Harned, an agricultural communicator from Kentucky wrote a blog last summer to fair-goers, asking for their patience and consideration when attending events with livestock present. Her blog, “A Letter to Fairgoers from a Livestock Exhibitor,” (http://celestelaurent.com/?p=4354) hits the nail on the head.
Harned gives a few guidelines –
• Don’t touch the animals without the owners’ permission. They can bite, kick or worse!
• Don’t feed the animals. They are fed a highly specialized diet, and you don’t want them to get sick.
• Don’t take your strollers up and down the aisles of the barn. The noise/sight could scare the animals.
• Wash your and your children’s hands often.
Harned says, “I’ve been showing pigs at the Kentucky State Fair since I was a child and over the years I’ve noticed a thing or two about you. In some ways, you and I have a lot in common. We’re both excited to take in the sights, do a little shopping and eat an ice cream cone the size of our head. There is one key difference between you and I, however… I am here to show my livestock. My family has been working all year to get our animals ready for this moment.”
While our animals are used to be around humans, loud noises, sudden movements and getting in behind or in front of a livestock project can be dangerous for you and them.
After reading Harned’s post, how can you make your fair experience better?
Until next time,