Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Joe Morrissey 518-457-0752
Dave Bullard 315-487-7711 x 1377

February 25, 2015

Piglets and Sows to Return to the 2015 Great New York State Fair

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and New York State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith today announced the return of the hugely popular piglets and sows exhibit and competition at the 2015 Great New York State Fair.  In 2014, due to a relatively new virus known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has a high mortality rate among piglets, a decision was made by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to suspend the exhibit to protect the well-being of piglets and their mothers.  Due to the fact that there were no reported cases at the State Fair as well as county fairs in 2014, coupled with no unusual uptick in cases this winter in contrast with last winter, Commissioner Ball and Dr. Smith have made the decision to allow this exhibit to return in 2015.

“I’ve gotten more questions on the status of this exhibit for 2015 than I can count, and after careful consideration by the one of best animal health experts in the country, we couldn’t be more pleased that this wildly popular exhibit is returning to the Fair in 2015,” said Commissioner Ball.  “We are first and foremost an agricultural fair, and we take our responsibility as caregivers to the animals there very seriously.  This is great news for fairgoers coming to the premier agritourism location in New York State in 2015.”

“We’ve been monitoring this situation with respect to PEDv very closely since its outbreak almost two years ago,” said Dr. Smith.  “Our staff was at every agricultural fair in New York State last year monitoring animal health and no evidence of the virus was reported.  Vaccines were also made available to pork producers last year with some success, although work continues in an effort to improve their outcomes.  At this time last year, we did not know how severe PEDv would be in New York and we believed it was important to keep the most vulnerable age classes of swine home from the Fair.  Our staff in the Division of Animal Industry did a great job in handling this situation last year and I’m comfortable allowing the return of this exhibit in 2015.”

A welcome home party for this popular exhibit will take place during the Fair’s media preview day on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.  At any given New York State Fair, there are between four and six sows with eight to 12 piglets each.  Fair officials estimate that as many as half of all fairgoers visit the swine-and-piglets exhibit during the 12-day extravaganza.  New York had 70,000 hogs on December 1, 2014, up from 66,000 on December 1, 2013. 

Ed Dutton, Owner of Churchill Farms in Holland, NY, said, “As a longtime exhibitor, I think this is great news for fairgoers because seeing piglets with their mothers up close is always one of the most positive experiences at the Fair.” 

The Department of Agriculture and Markets assigns veterinarians and veterinary technicians to every county fair and the State Fair to check the health of livestock and poultry as they enter and also to monitor animal health during the fairs.  As always, Animal Industry staff will be present throughout the 12-day Fair.  The Department’s decision applies only to the Great New York State Fair.  Division of Animal Industry staff are available to discuss options with local agricultural fairs as needed.

Dr. Smith encourages exhibitors at every agricultural fair in the state to practice sound biosecurity to protect their animals, including:

  • 4H-ers purchasing feeder pigs for their fair projects should only acquire their feeders from reputable farms.  If they’re from out of state ask to see the certificate of veterinary inspection.
  • All swine should be examined closely before taking them to the fair.  Exhibitors should take their animals’ temperature prior to the trip to the fair.  Swine with temperatures over 102.5 should be left home.
  • If any of your pigs have diarrhea, no pigs from the affected farm should go to the fair.
  • All exhibitors should practice a high level of sanitation at every fair, including avoiding unnecessary contact with other swine and other exhibitors’ equipment.
  • Left over feed and bedding are best discarded at the fair and not brought home, since these materials are very difficult or impossible to disinfect.
  • Isolate all pigs after returning home for at least 2 weeks. Observe pigs closely during this period and consult a veterinarian if any become sick.

Hand sanitizers will again be used at barns located throughout the 12-day Fair.

PEDv is relatively new to the US, first appearing in the Midwest in May 2013 and has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s hog farmers, having caused the death of millions of piglets since its outbreak.  When sows and litters become infected, PEDv kills nearly 100% of piglets less than 10 days old, while pigs older than 10 days tend to recover.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, in conjunction with the National Pork Board, has made a wealth of information available at:

For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Animal Industry, visit  For more information on the 2015 Great New York State Fair, visit

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