What, Why & How; FAQ’s

Please review the answers to our most frequently asked questions found below. If questions remain, you may contact the Fairfield County Senior Fair Board at 740-653-3041 for more information.

Question #1: What is ractopamine?

Answer: A beta-adrenergic agonist that when fed according to label directions can improve pig growth rate, carcass composition, and feed conversion efficiency. Product trade names include: Paylean®, Optaflexx®, Engain®, Actogain®, and other generic derivatives. In the short video clip that follows, OSU Extension Swine Specialist Dr. Steve Moeller explains further exactly what ractopamine is.

Question #2: Ractopamine, or Paylean®, has been around for 20+ years and remains legal for use in market swine, market cattle and market turkeys. Why are we not allowed to feed it to our Fair pigs this year?

Answer: Ractopamine-free swine production is now a market specification/requirement throughout much of the U.S pork packing industry. Because show pigs have the potential to enter the International pork markets, many of our packers are demanding the pigs they purchase must be ractopamine-free. More specifically, Routh Packing and Indiana Packers will go ractopamine free by May 1, 2020. You can learn more as Dr. Moeller explains further in the short video below.

Question #3: What does ractopamine-free mean?

Answer: The pig has never been fed or exposed to ractopamine sources from the time of birth to the time of harvest.

Question #4: Since this remains a legal product, how can the Fair have the right to ban a legal substance?

Answer: The fair/exhibition has the right set parameters for exhibits at their fair. In this case it’s being done to ensure markets for the pigs that are exhibited at the fair. An example of a swine practice that has been banned even though not illegal is the minimum hair length requirement that was implemented for hogs some years ago. Another example occurred in 2015 when, despite remaining a legal feed additive, the use of Zilmax was banned for use in Fairfield County market beef being exhibited at the Fairfield County Fair. Both those bans remain in effect today.

Question #5: How do we know if the exhibitor fed ractopamine, or the hog got it off a contaminated gate, manure from another animal, etc?

Answer: Pigs could be tested upon arrival at the fair. Also, ractopamine can be tested are various different levels. The level of ractopamine in the animal at the time of testing will give an indication of when and how much it might have received. In the video below, Dr. Moeller goes into more detail regarding the prevention of ractopamine contamination and testing pigs for the substance.

Question #6: What are some of the testing options?

Answer:

  • Rapid test (field tests) include urine and feed.
  • ELISAs (lab testing) include tissue and urine.

In the video below, Dr. Moeller offers more insight into available tests, and when and how they might be most effectively utilized.

Question #7: What are enforceable consequences if a pig is found to have ractopamine in it’s system?

Answer: Since the fair has banned ractopamine, it is indeed, a banned substance. The ramifications of having a pig with ractopamine are the same as if the pigs or any other food animals are found with any other banned substance.

More specifically in this case, pigs at the 2020 Fairfield County Fair will be subject to random testing for ractopamine by both the Fairfield County Agriculture Society and the buyer/packer bidder.  If a pig tests positive for ractopamine, the Fairfield County Agriculture Society and the buyer/packer bidder reserves the right to determine disciplinary and financial penalties against the exhibitor.

Question #8: I still don’t understand why this is my problem and I can’t feed a legal substance.

Answer: Remember that quality (as a part of the Quality Assurance program) is a pledge to provide:

  • A safe, wholesome food product
  • A food product preferred by consumers

Youth swine projects reflect the swine industry’s commitment to the WeCare® principles that provide the basis for consumer trust in the way you raise pigs and the safety and wholesomeness of the pork they purchase.

Question #9: What can I do to help ensure that my pig doesn’t ingest ractopamine from another source?

  • Understand the status of any pig(s) you purchase or raise on your own farm and comply by not feeding or exposing your pigs to ractopamine.
  • Work directly with your feed supplier to assure that the feed you use is free of ractopamine.
  • Feeders and containers should be thoroughly disinfected and dried prior to adding new feed. This will prevent cross-contamination. Feed or pig manure that contained ractopamine last year and remains yet this year can still contain ractopamine, even a year later.
  • Pens, bedding, fans, etc. should be thoroughly disinfected as they have a risk of containing ractopamine if you have fed it in the past.
  • Do a complete disinfection and drying of trailers and vehicles between loads of pigs, or after cattle or turkey that might have been fed ractopamine are hauled.

Question # 10: What is the Fairfield County Fair going to do to help prevent ractopamine contamination that could result from past year exhibitors, from other’s pigs that may have been fed ractopamine this year, or from other species that may have been fed ractopamine?

Answer: Sanitation and an enhanced bio-security protocol will be followed on the fairgrounds by the Fairfield Agricultural Society in an effort to eliminate contamination situations that could be encountered.

The livestock buildings and show arena will be thoroughly cleaned prior to the fair, and also throughout the fair.

Senior Fair Board members and staff will be working with our livestock haulers to insure their trailers are clean before transporting the pigs from the fair to harvest.

Exhibitors will be encouraged to clean their trailers prior to transport of their project, and discouraged from mixing their animals with animals from other farms on their trailers.

Question # 11: In addition to the affidavits, are there additional procedures that will be followed leading up to and during the 2020 Fairfield County Fair that help ensure everyone adheres to the rule banning the use of ractopamine in swine?

Answer: Market hogs at the 2020 Fairfield County Fair will be subject to random testing for ractopamine by both the Fairfield County Agriculture Society and the buyer/packer bidder.  If a pig tests positive for ractopamine, the Fairfield County Agriculture Society and the buyer/packer bidder reserves the right to determine disciplinary and financial penalties against the exhibitor.

Question #12: The Ohio State Fair requires that a parent or guardian be certified on PQA+. Is that required in Fairfield County?

Answer: No, not at this time.