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DNA testing will ID pigs in show
Madelyn Peach, 14, of Jolly Mixers 4-H, holds her trophy and ribbons won for her pig while selling in auction at the 2013 Green County Fair. (Times file photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - The Green County Fair swine show will go on as scheduled in 2014, but exhibitors will not be pre-identifying their pigs at the annual weigh-in that was scheduled for the end of March due to the concerns with the spread of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. The Wisconsin State Veterinarian has banned all spring fair weigh-ins for pigs in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the state.

Since the county is prohibited from having pig weigh-ins this spring, and since having individuals going from farm to farm to identify pigs could potentially spread the virus, a new self-identification system that includes DNA testing will be used for identifying Green County fair pigs in 2014.

All Green County fair swine exhibitors will be required to self-identify their pigs using the same method used by the Wisconsin State Fair for many years. Exhibitors will be required to tag their own pigs and pull hair samples for DNA testing from each fair pig. The cost of the new DNA test kits will be $5 per pig. Exhibitors will also be given two RFID ear tags for each animal at no additional cost. DNA test kits and ear tags will only be available for pickup at the Green County Extension Office, 2841 6th St. The DNA kits and ear tags will be available for pickup starting Friday, March 21. The kits will not be mailed.

Exhibitors will be required to tag their pigs and return their hair samples to the University of Wisconsin-Extension Office by Monday, April 21 to exhibit the pigs at the 2014 fair. Hair samples will be pulled from the champion pigs along with several pigs at random at the fair this summer. DNA tests will then be run to ensure that the pigs are the same as those that were tagged by exhibitors this spring. The DNA testing system does have a cost; however, it's the only self-identification method that ensures integrity and fairness for all swine exhibitors in the absence of having a weigh-in.

The Green County UW-Extension Office will loan out ear taggers for exhibitors to use for tagging their pigs. The taggers must be returned to the UW-Extension office when, and will be sanitized before, being given to another farm to prevent the spread of disease. Exhibitors will be required to pay the $5 fee for each DNA testing kit when they pick them up. 4-H Leaders and Agriculture instructors will be allowed to pick up ID kits for their members, however, they will be required to sign and pay for all the kits that they pick up at the UW-Extension Office.

The kit will include an envelope for hair samples and two RFID ear tags. The DNA hair samples and the County of Origin Labeling forms must be returned to the UW-Extension Office by April 21. The hair samples and forms should not be mailed.

When picking up their pig identification kits, exhibitors will be provided with instructions on the correct procedures for pulling the DNA hair samples and placing the RFID ear tags. The DNA hair sample envelopes will need to be signed by both the exhibitor and a parent. Exhibitors will also receive COOL forms with their ID kits. These forms will also need to be signed by both the exhibitor and a parent and returned with the DNA samples. Only pigs that are identified using the Green County ID kits will be eligible to exhibit at the 2014 Green County fair.

Since fair pigs will not be able to be weighed prior to the fair, the Swine Performance Class will be canceled and no pigs will be scanned in 2014. Each exhibitor will be able to bring a maximum of three barrows for the live market show. Exhibitors will be allowed to bring a maximum of four total pigs, no more than two of which can be market gilts. Market Barrows must weigh at least 225 pounds by the fair to show and at least 235 to sell in the Green County fair livestock auction.

The 2014 Green County show will continue to be a terminal show with all pigs going directly to a terminal market after the fair to eliminate the possible spread of any diseases.

All Green County swine exhibitors are required to be certified in the Meat Animal Quality Assurance Program prior to Sunday, June 1 to be eligible to exhibit swine at the Green County Fair. Swine exhibitors who need to be certified or recertified must attend a certification session held on Saturday, May 10 at the Green County Justice Center or Tuesday, May 20 at the Juda Community Center. Swine exhibitors must contact the UW-Extension Office at 608-328-9440 to register by Thursday, May 1 for the training session of their choice.

Swine exhibitors will also be required to complete swine health verification forms for that include any medical treatments that were administered to the project animal. These forms will be distributed to exhibitors when they pick up their ID kits and must be turned in to the Green County UW-Extension Office by Thursday, July 3.

For more information, contact Mark Mayer, UW-Extension Agriculture agent, at 608-328-9440.