Weather tough on animals

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2003

ROME TOWNSHIP - Scorching temperatures and soaking humidity at the Lawrence County Fair has made this year's environment challenging for fair attendees, workers and the animals.

Monday, one 4-H project pig and two project chickens died, said Laura Jane Murphy, Lawrence County's OSU extension agent for 4-H.

"The heat and humidity have taken a toll on the animals," Murphy said.

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With temperatures at 90 degrees or warmer with high humidity because of brief showers combined with the

animals' stress of being moved from their homes to the fair, Murphy said she has been worried about the animals and the children who spend long hours at the fair caring for them. The heat has also been hard on the adults accompanying the children as well, she said.

"Last year, temperatures were sometimes 70 degrees. This year, we're not as lucky," Murphy said.

To keep the animals safe, Murphy said 4-H and fair officials have been trying to keep the air well-circulated and give the animals plenty of water. Children have also taken extra care of their animals by watering them and bringing fans for them.

"The kids take excellent care of their animals. We would have more problems if they did not," Murphy said.

During Monday's rabbit showmanship competition, the older children were told not to bring their rabbits. This was done, Murphy said, to keep the rabbits from being more stressed out from being moved more than once from their pens to the show arena. This was also done because many of the older children are adept at showing the rabbits, so they were only quizzed by the judge.

Also, during Tuesday's market hog competition, Murphy encouraged anyone available to help spray and water the pigs to keep them cool.

"We're doing the best for the kids and the animals as we can," Perry Brock, livestock chairman, said.

The children do a good job of checking on their animals, but the livestock committee also checks to make sure the animals are watered with clean pens, Brock said. This is a part of the children's project.

"Moving them from the farm to the fair causes a lot of stress," Brock said. "When you move them from the farm to here, you have more people around, and it becomes congested."

Thirteen-year-old Miller resident Lindsay Daniels was the one who lost a pig.

"It was depressing," she said. "It was the best one we had."

Lindsay's father, Brent Daniels, said the lost pig weighed too light to be in one of the fair's animal sales, but Lindsay could have sold the pig herself, or the family could have butchered it and used the meat themselves.

Brent Daniels also said the pig was very stressed on the first day, and the pig jumped out of its pen twice. A piece of metal fencing was placed over the pig's pen, but it eventually died from a combination of heat and stress, which Daniels said he learned from a veterinarian.

"At home, it was fine. It was more like a pet," Brent Daniels said.

"It just freaked out," Lindsay said.

Brent Daniels said Lindsay does have another pig she can show and sell as well as a tobacco project. Lindsay and Brent Daniels both said she handled the situation very well, and they were pleased that the fair board members took the pig away for them.

Murphy said the two children who lost chickens can compete in showmanship competitions, but cannot sell the animals at the fair's animal sale because chickens are sold in pens of two.

"The kids work hard on their projects, and it's disappointing," she said. "They work hard every day, taking care of the animals and bringing them water."

Fair Board President Doug Clark said the fair board does try to help keep the animals safe. However, if the fair board does make any money this year, it will try to improve electrical equipment.

"Hogs are the worst when it comes to needing air," he said.

Clark also said the air conditioned Jonas Payne building, which was dedicated this year and named after a 50-year fair board member, has been helpful because it does provide people a place to cool off. The air conditioner was donated by the Liebert Corp., he said.