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Livestock Exhibitions

Ohio Livestock Exhibitions

The Ohio Department of Agriculture works tirelessly with veterinarians, exhibitors, 4-H and FFA leaders, industry experts and educators to ensure livestock exhibitions in Ohio are fair and the animals from these shows that enter the marketplace are fit for human consumption.

Ohio has been aggressive in addressing problems and concerns related to tampering of exhibition livestock with illegal drugs and substances. More than 38,000 animals are entered at county and independent fair competitions - demonstrating the critical importance of producing healthy animals. Public concern over a safe food supply, the need to develop residue avoidance mentalities in food animal producers, and the desire to elevate youth exhibitors on their skill in raising quality livestock, led Ohioan to develop a program that would serve to deter tampering of livestock at Ohio livestock exhibitions.

The primary purposes of Ohio's livestock exhibition rules are to:

  • Encourage youth development skills in livestock production
  • Deter tampering
  • Heighten producer food safety awareness
  • Avoid residue
  • Punish violators
  • Promote health, safety and welfare of livestock
  • Promote show ring ethics
  • Provide each and every exhibitor a competitive atmosphere that promotes and educational experience as well as honesty and integrity

Read the joint news release from ODA and the Ohio Department of Health reminding Ohioans how to stay healthy at fairs.

Download printable signs to post at fairs reminding guests about steps they can take to stay healthy.

The Ohio Livestock Reform Act

The Ohio Livestock Show Reform Act authorizes the Director of Agriculture to adopt mandatory and optional rules.

Mandatory rules apply to all livestock shows, while the sponsor has the option to opt out of the optional rules on an individual rule basis. If a sponsor decides not to opt out of an optional rule, the rule then becomes mandatory. The following is a clarification of how the statute (Ohio Revised Code) and rules (Ohio Administrative Code) are to be interpreted and applied at all terminal, partial terminal and non-terminal livestock exhibitions in Ohio:

  1. Livestock is inclusive of all species, except equine;
  2. Livestock exhibitions include all county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair and all preview and jackpot shows;
  3. A sponsor is any entity who conducts an exhibition including preview and jackpot shows;
  4. The sponsor may opt out of any or all of the optional rules at least 30 days prior to the opening (a form will be provided and must be returned to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, 8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Oh. 43068);
  5. Effective February 13, 2004, exhibitors shall annually attend or complete a quality assurance program before exhibiting terminal or partial terminal market livestock, or at the option of Ohio State University Extension, annually pass a test administered by or under the supervision of Ohio State University Extension.
  6. Effective February 19, 2007, OAC 901-19-07, exhibitors may pass a test based on age and skill level to be exempt from quality assurance re-certification. This exemption is at the discretion of OSU Extension or Ohio agricultural education.
  7. Effective March 23, 2017, OAC 901-19-07 (C): Exhibitors who fail to attend or complete a quality assurance program or fail to pass the exam as outlined in paragraph (B) of this rule may be subject to the disciplinary actions listed in rule 901-19-21 of the Administrative Code.
  8. New for 2018, Appendix A to OAC 901-19-17 requires junior fair exhibitors to complete a quality assurance program at least 45 days prior to the opening date of the exhibition.
  9. Swine being sent to a licensed livestock facility or going out of state for slaughter or commingled with out of state swine must be identified with an official eartag or four digit tattoo.
  10. The department does not require Certificates of Veterinary Inspection for exhibition livestock originating in Ohio including swine. However, an exhibition sponsor can choose to require additional regulations above those of the department.
  11. Effective March 21, 2016, an acceptable practices rule, OAC 901-19-12 (Q), only permits drenching of livestock for a medical condition at an exhibition when diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian and an unacceptable practices rule, OAC 901-19-13 (H), drenching of livestock at an exhibition is prohibited except as permitted under paragraph (Q) of rule 901-19-12 of the Administrative Code.
  12. Effective March 21, 2016, OAC 901-19-13(C) Applying any electrical, mechanical, or other appliance that enhances, transforms, or changes the true conformation, configuration, or appearance of the livestock, unless prescribed by the exhibition veterinarian;
  13. Effective March 21, 2016, OAC 901-19-33, Prohibited Grooming Practices, becomes mandatory.
  14. Effective February 15, 2003, OAC 901-19-02 (II) slick clipping or body shaving means having hair that is less than one half inch in length on the body of market hogs;
  15. Even if the sponsor opts out of one or more of the optional tampering rules, the statute prohibits the use of any material, gas, solid, or liquid, that conceals, transforms or enhances the true confirmation or configuration of all livestock, including by way of example but not limited to rope, false hair, graphite, and hemp;
  16. For breeding classes the rules of the breed association will constitute acceptable grooming practices;
  17. Effective March 21, 2016, OAC 901-19-38, becomes a mandatory rule.
  18. The Exhibition Livestock Health Rules apply to any exhibition over 36 hours in duration or has livestock whose origin is not Ohio and that exhibition must have an approved veterinarian (a form will be provided and must be returned to the Ohio Department of Agriculture at least 20 days prior to the opening date);
  19. Junior market livestock shows at county and independent fairs and the Ohio State Fair are defined as either terminal or partial terminal shows: 
    1. partial means that at least the grand and reserve grand champion animals are required to go to slaughter or directly to a licensed livestock facility for slaughter only,
    2. terminal means all market livestock go to slaughter or directly to a licensed livestock facility for slaughter only;
  20. Preview and jackpot shows, as well as breeding classes are non-terminal shows;
  21. At all terminal, partial terminal and non-terminal shows urine and hair samples may be collected;
  22. A Drug Use Notification Form (DUNF) will be required to be completed for all livestock for which a test sample is collected;
  23. OAC 901-19-06 (D) the Director of Agriculture shall require a DUNF be completed for livestock including market steer, market hog, market lamb, veal calf, market dairy steer, market goats, market poultry, lactating dairy cattle and lactating dairy goats, and be reviewed locally (assistance will be available from the Ohio Department of Agriculture by faxing the form to 614-728-6310);
  24. For all shows the statute prohibits the misuse of legal drugs (including but not limited to the use of drugs approved for use in humans, but not approved for animal use) and the use of illegal drugs;
  25. The statute prohibits the showing of tranquilized livestock, including products such as Calf Calm, and diuretics for cosmetic purposes;
  26. All livestock entered in a carcass contest at a terminal, partial terminal, and non-terminal show must be drug free on the day of show:
    1. a. the withdrawal time must have elapsed by the day of show, or
    2. the drug must not exceed the tolerance level on the day of show;
  27. Immediately before or during a terminal and partial terminal show and sale and within a valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) or for a valid medical purpose a drug or an over-the-counter (OTC) drug may be used if it is declared on a DUNF and the drug's side effect does not conceal, transform or enhance the conformation of the treated livestock, any such permitted drug use must be disclosed at the time of sale;
  28. The drug use notification form shall be filed with the records official prior to the show in which the animal is entered. If at any time, the information on the original drug use notification form changes, an updated form shall be filed immediately with the records official.
  29. At non-terminal shows the use of drugs requires a VCPR for prescription and extra-label use of drugs, and OTC drugs must be used or a valid medical purpose and according to label directions and must be declared on a DUNF

The preceding is not intended to be an all encompassing review of the statute and rules as they pertain to livestock exhibitions in Ohio.

Click here to download the above information in printable form.

Exhibition Laws and Rules

Ohio Youth Livestock Exhibition Rules

Livestock Tampering Exhibition Rules

Livestock Health Exhibition Rules

Livestock Show Reform Law

ORC 901.70 ORC 901.71 ORC 901.72
ORC 901.73 ORC 901.74 ORC 901.75
ORC 901.76    


Fair leaders can download and submit forms required to be submitted to ODA below.

Optional Rule Notification

Veterinarian Approval

Notification of Designated Records Official


ODA strongly urges fair board members and fair veterinarians to be vigilant in looking for the clinical signs of Influenza and Erysipelas in swine populations at their fairs.

As a reminder, both of these illnesses can be directly transmitted between swine and humans in the same way that illness can be transmitted between people. When humans are in close proximity to infected swine under certain conditions (hot, humid weather and close quarters such as in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs) movement of these illnesses can occur back and forth. It’s important for all exhibitors and veterinarians to monitor all livestock at Ohio fairs for any clinical signs of illness. If an exhibitor suspects any signs of illness in your animal, immediately contact the fair veterinarian and the barn superintendent.

Fair boards are strongly encouraged to review the Measures to Minimize Influenza Transmission at Swine Exhibitions and corresponding checklist, available for download below.

Checklist for Minimizing Influenza Transmission at Swine Exhibitions


Swine erysipelas is an infectious seen mainly in growing pigs and characterized clinically by sudden death, fever, skin lesions and arthritis. The fever can induce abortion in pregnant gilts and sows.

Stress factors such as overstocking, mixing pigs after weaning and sudden changes in temperature can trigger clinical erysipelas. Environmental contamination is common because bacteria are excreted via saliva, nasal secretions, feces, and urine. The disease is zoonatic, meaning it can be transmitted to humans. 

Click here to read more about Erysipelas.