What is in this article?:
Rodeos put animal health and welfare in front of fans. How rodeo has used veterinary information to prepare for—and respond to—a range of questions can be an example for the beef industry.
Dealing with Disease Risk
As with the outbreak of EHV-1, the livestock and rodeo industry share a concern for disease transmission. Not only is disease an economic concern, but it is also highly visible to the general public. In cattle, bovine tuberculsosis (TB) is an area where both rodeo and livestock understand the importance and risk associated with transportation.
“Bovine TB is something we’re working with state, federal and international animal health agencies regarding Mexico-origin cattle,” Schonholtz says. “Even though it’s an issue everyone in rodeo faces, veterinarians are really the people we look to in this area.”
Contagious disease like bovine TB is an area requiring the expertise of stock contractors, veterinarians, livestock producers and government officials, Dr. Corey notes.
“The people that have the steers from Mexico, even though they are TB-tested, our job is to make sure they don’t stable or stall next to native bulls or calves because if they touch noses they can spread the disease,” Dr. Corey says. “We also advise that if they go home, they should not be comingled. That is a new challenge and trying to spread that word is going to take a long time.”
In his work as a livestock superintendent, Dr. Barnes advises evaluating the rodeo facilities and formulating a plan to prevent the spread of disease and keep animals healthy.
“It doesn’t make any difference as to size or budget of the rodeo, it’s what you’re able to think through and adapt to,” Dr. Barnes says. “For example: Shade for the calves. Some people think you might need a big building, but you can hang a tarp up, and that works well. If water isn’t easily accessible, you can just make yourself more available to bring water in as needed.”
To protect against disease transmission, Dr. Barnes also advises that stock be brought in ahead of time, but kept offsite and isolated before being comingled at the rodeo. The time allows animals to be watched for signs of disease and also to adjust to their new surroundings.
Planning for veterinary care is another element Dr. Barnes considers closely.
“We’re in contact with our hometown veterinarian all the time,” he says. “If we’re on the road and have something that we feel is going wrong, we’ll have a veterinarian on the road look at them. Paying attention is the best advice to controlling disease.”