Welcome to The Blue Ribbon - Youth Livestock Projects blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide information, advice and suggestions for improving youth livestock projects from multiple sources. The information, advice and suggestions in this blog come from professional agricultural educators who have multiple years of experience working with youth and their livestock projects. If you ever have a question or a particular subject you would like addressed, please feel free to contact Scott Stinnett via email, or leave a comment and we will do our best to assist or address the subject. Should the question or subject be more technical, we will help direct you to an appropriate resource for the best possible answer.

Thank you,

Scott Stinnett and The Blue Ribbon Contributors

Friday, March 20, 2020

Zoonotic Disease

     Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases usually stay with the host animal unless they mutate, or genetically change, and then can be passed to humans. Once they mutate to infect humans, the effects on humans can vary. Some people infected will show few or no symptoms of illness and others will have major symptoms or may even die.

     So how can we prevent zoonotic diseases? The answer is to practice good human health, animal health and bio-security. For human health, wash your hands when you have been working with animals. Wash the clothes you wear around animals. Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with sick animals. This may include disposable gloves, masks, disposable booties and even disposable clothes.

     For animal health, work with your vet that you have a VCPR (Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship) to make a health plan including vaccinations against some diseases that could be zoonotic. Provide clean, fresh water and food daily. Observe animals daily for signs of illness or injury. Treat sick animal quickly and at the advice of your vet. Quarantine any sick animals from healthy ones.

     For bio-security, keep animal housing, facilities and equipment clean and disinfected. Prevent insects, rodents, birds and other pests from living around your animals. Quarantine any new animals being introduced to your location. Have a bio-security plan for any visitors coming in contact with your animals. Have them wash hands, shoes or anything else that may contact your animals or their environment.

We know how to prevent the spread of disease, so make sure you follow good practices.

Scott Stinnett
Area Extension Agent
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

I Mean Clean

    When the last year's animal projects have left the barn, we usually take some time to clean up. But what does it mean to clean? For some people, clean is removing the trash, removing old bedding, throwing away old feed and sweeping up. Other folks empty the barn out, fire up a power washer and blast every nook and cranny the barn has. The question is still the same. What is clean, I mean truly clean?

     I have my way of cleaning around the barn, but this question got me to thinking and doing a little research. I found this source, CLEANING AND DISINFECTION by the National Animal Health Emergency Management System (NAHEMS). These are the USDA people who respond to major animal disease outbreaks. They are the experts in what is clean. 

     Reading through it, there is a lot of technical stuff and if you followed it, you would probably have the cleanest and most sanitary facilities in your county and maybe your state. But for our purposes, let me give you a simplified version of what it means to clean a livestock facility.

     NAHEMS breaks clean up into two parts, Cleaning and Disinfection. They then break Cleaning and Disinfection into three smaller parts. Let's look at each area.

     Cleaning is the removal of material items from a livestock facility. The first part is called Dry Cleaning.
"Dry cleaning involves the removal of any gross contamination and organic material (e.g., soil, manure, bedding, feed) from production areas or equipment".
     This is the hard work part of cleaning. Hauling out all the manure, old bedding, shavings, feed, hay, trash and finally excess dirt using shovels, rakes, wheel barrows and brooms. Remember, most of this could be put into a compost pile, but make sure the trash goes to the landfill where it belongs.

      After Dry Cleaning is Washing. This is the wet work. Get you rubber boots, scrub brush, bucket and hose for this part. Find your favorite detergent (soap) and make some suds. Washing is meant to remove the stuff you didn't or couldn't get during the dry cleaning by
"...removing any oil, grease, or exudates that may inhibit the action of disinfection".

     Why do we wash before we disinfect? The things washing removes allows the disinfectants to do their job better. 
     Once everything has be given a good soapy scrub, its needs to be rinsed and dried. Rinsing should remove all the detergent or soap and the final few pieces of stuck on manure, dirt, bedding and other organic matter. And now we can get to the easiest part, Drying. Just gather up all your cleaning supplies and let everything air dry.
"Whenever possible, surfaces should be allowed to dry completely (if possible overnight) before application of a disinfectant".
     You read that right, take a break until tomorrow. Go get your wet clothes changed, make some popcorn, watch a movie with friends and relax until tomorrow!

      When everything is dry, it is time to disinfect. Now depending on what you decide to disinfect with this may be a job for the adults. Consult your veterinarian, the one you have the VCPR (veterinary client patient relationship) with. Ask them what they recommend as a disinfectant. Different disinfectants work better for different species of livestock, facility types and on different micro-organisms (the things that causes diseases).
     Disinfectants need what is called Contact Time. This is the amount of time needed for the disinfectant to do its job and kill those nasty micro-organisms that can make your animals sick. The disinfectant should say on it packaging what the necessary contact time is.

     Once Contact Time has passed, get the rubber boots out again because its time to rinse again. Make sure all the disinfectant is completely rinsed off. When you feel it is all gone, time to let it dry again.

Why Do This?

     This is a lot of work and may be one of those weekend projects if your barns and facilities are big. But this process can be applied to smaller projects as well. Think about all your tack and equipment. Does it need to be cleaned and disinfected? Cleaning and disinfecting tack and equipment can help prevent the spread of a contagious micro-organism from animal to animal.

    Why would someone go to all this work? Have you ever had to deal with a contagious disease or infection with your animals? Think about ringworm, wool fungus, coccidiosis, scours or worse problems. All are contagious but good sanitation can help to control the spread. 

     I hope you keep clean facilities for your livestock and you take time to clean them thoroughly between each new set of animal you bring in. A little extra time and effort now could prevent a lot of trouble in the future.

Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Fungus Among Us

     Wool fungus and ringworm. Two variants of a nasty little fungi that cause some ugly spots on the skin of sheep, goats and cattle. If left untreated, it can cause severe skin lesions and is highly contagious even to humans. If you go to a show and active fungus is found on your animal, you will be asked to leave immediately. Three things you need to understand are: how animals get it, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

How Animals Get Wool Fungus/Ringworm

     Wool fungus and ringworm is caused by Trichophyton. The spores of this fungus attack the animal's skin through small cuts or nicks. These spores can survive several years in the environment. This includes in pens, in trailers, on equipment and on tack. It can take up to 4 weeks before any lesions (signs of fungus infection) appear.

     Shearing of wool removes a sheep's natural layers of protection, wool and its lanolin, and allows the spores to get to the skin. It can also hide in wool as well. The spores can be transmitted from sheep to sheep contact or by sheep picking it up from the environment where it is present.

     Ringworm in goats and cattle starts the same with cuts or scratches on the skin allowing the fungus in. Goats and cattle tend to get minor cuts and scratches by rubbing on things in the environment. It can also be transferred easily between animals since they do not have the wool and lanolin that sheep have.

How to Prevent Wool Fungus/Ringworm

     The best way is to avoid animals that have fungus and the environments they are in. If you know a farm, barn or other location is the home to animals infected with fungus, do not take your animals there and if you go, be sure to clean and disinfect yourself , your clothes or any items that came in contact with the animals.

     If you have gone to a show or other location and are concerned you may pick up the fungus, then its best to wash and disinfect animals before you leave. There are several fungus washes available to buy for your livestock. You also need to disinfect tack and equipment. I like to spray down items with a chlorohexadine mixture to disinfect from fungus and other possible infectious diseases. If everything is washed and disinfected before being loaded into the trailer, the trailer should remain fungus free as well, but it is not a bad idea to regularly wash out a trailer and disinfect it as well.

How to Treat Fungus

     Treating fungus can be a little difficult. Treating the active lesions to prevent it from spreading is the priority. There are lots of  ideas and alternative ways on how to treat these lesion from painting them, to spraying on certain lubricants. None of these are approved for use on animals. DO NOT DO THIS to your animals.

    Since most ringworm on goats and cattle will usually heal over time, we need to prevent the spread to other animals. First, keep them away from other animals to prevent spread of the fungus. Then clean animals with a fungus wash and disinfect all tack and equipment. Finally, use a fungicide to treat the lesions. This will help prevent it from spreading.

     Wool fungus is a little trickier. There is an extra step of clipping wool around the lesions to allow access to the skin to treat the fungus. Clip as small an area as possible and then disinfect those blades and clippers before using on another sheep. Now do the same as with a goat or calf. Wash the animal, treat the lesions and disinfect tack and equipment.

     If the wool fungus and ringworm does not seem to be getting better, or it seems to be spreading, call your vet. (The one you have the VCPR with, right?!)


     Wool fungus and ringworm are zoonotic, which means they can spread to people. If you are treating animals with wool fungus and ringworm you need to prevent yourself from getting it. Wear protective gloves while treating animals or disinfecting things. Wash your hands after handling these animals. And finally, wash your clothes after handling infected animals.

     If you find a spot of ringworm on your skin, don't panic, but do call your doctor and get their recommendation on treating it.

     Wool fungus and ringworm can be a tough thing to deal with. It may mean you get to miss a show or two. It definitely means you are going to be cleaning, disinfecting, and treating your animals. Remember, prevention is better than the cure.

Scott Stinnett
Area Extension Agent
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Record Keeping with your Phone?

     It is that time of year when 4-H members are completing their record books and FFA members are getting constant reminders from their FFA Advisor to update theirs. For the junior and intermediate 4-H members, help from parents and 4-H leaders makes record keeping easier, but senior 4-H'ers and FFA members are more responsible for doing it by themselves. So how can it be made any easier for next year?

     First get organized. Find a shoe box, big envelope, storage tub, desk drawer or other place to put all the pieces of paper you will need for your record book. Put in there financial papers from your project like check stubs from selling projects, receipts from buying feed, equipment, supplies, vet bills and other expenses from your projects. And don't forget bills of sale, copies of registration papers, vet certificates and any other paperwork for your project.

     Second thing; use your phone. Yes an adult is telling you to use your phone. Here's how the phone is helpful. Take pictures of things associated with your project. We like to take pictures of our animals, but take pictures of things that will go in your record book. Are you doing some animal health work like vaccinating or giving wormer? Then take a picture of the products used, especially the label with the lot number and expiration date. Two things have now happened. Your phone recorded the date of the event and you can always go back and see a picture of what animal health product you used. The label will tell you things you should put into your records like the full product name, lot number, expiration date and withdrawal period.

     Take pictures of other things associated with your project like your pens where your animals live, bags of feed, the barn, your showmanship practice area, where you store your tack, the truck and trailer you use to transport your animals.

     Take pictures of the weather too. Reality is it will rain and be muddy when you have animals. It may snow. It may be extremely hot. Take pictures of these events.

     With all these pictures, you can make a better story at the end of your record book as well as use the date stamp to know when things happened. This makes a more accurate and complete record book.

    The other thing that a phone can be used for is the calendar. Most smart phones have a built in calendar app. Use it to keep track of dates with your project like trips to the vet, jackpot shows, when feed was bought and when 4-H and/or FFA activities took place. Then come record book time, just open your calendar and transfer the dates into your record book.

     I know this post is not specific to direct animal care, but record keeping is an important part of raising animals. Record books are 4-H and FFA's way of teaching you how to keep accurate and appropriate records. Using a phone is just another tool to help make that record keeping a little easier.

Scott Stinnett
Area Extension Agent
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension