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Animal Doping At State Fairs

Animal Doping At State Fairs

Could the prized steer, cows and other show animals at your State Fair be pumped full of performance- enhancing drugs? 


It’s not about winning the blue ribbon anymore; champion animals can earn as much as $100,000 for their owners.


A show steer is groomed, buffed and pampered before he takes a stroll in front of the judges at a State Fair.  If he is awarded the honor of Grand Champion his status as a money making bull, multiplies for his owner. 


A single dose of semen from a prize winning bull can bring in $8,000.  And one embryo from an award winning cow can earn up to $1,000. Cows can produce 60 embryos a year.


The high stakes cash rewards for having champion animals has tempted some owners to dope them.  Just like athletes, steer that are given steroids get more muscular and cows that are injected with foam or water look plumper.  Both attributes bring in more cash.


Animal-doping became so prevalent in Ohio the state passed a law making it a crime.  There are now more than eight banned substances and each animal is tested for them.  Veterinarians and lab techs screen for everything from Clenbuterol, a growth hormone to Lasix which is a weight loss drug.


Fairs also weigh cows and steers and disqualify any animal that gains or loses more than “5 percent of its weight over the course of the fair.” 


This policy was implemented because some owners would force a hose down the throat of a cow to fill her with water and make her look plumper.


To help stop the abuse, the North American Livestock Show and Rodeo Managers Association, started a national database of people caught breaking the law.  This has helped curb repeat offenders from jumping back into the competition.


Animal-doping has also changed the way veterinarians like Tom Lang, D.V.M. spends his day at a State Fair. 


Now Lang walks around the arena duct-taping wooden dowels and plastic cups to animals in order to retrieve samples of urine.  The law states Lang can’t leave the animal alone, so there are times when the veterinarian waits with the cow or pig for several hours.


Lang is also required to clip the hair from the shoulders of prize winning animals to test for drugs.  And veterinarians run an ultrasound machine on the udders of cows to check for injected fluids that make them look fuller.  Each sample is sent to a lab for testing.


Some of the drugs are crueler than others.  For a while Lasix became a popular choice by owners.  The drug forces fluid out of an animal and can trim off hundreds of pounds, making it easier for an animal to compete in a lower weight class.  Lasix can also be a dangerous drug because it lowers blood pressure and removes lifesaving electrolytes. 


The latest form of artificial enhancement witnessed at fairgrounds in 2010 has to do with interbreeding.  Owners inject dairy steer with small amounts of beef steer to produce “a better looking animal for eating.”


Since the stakes for big cash rewards has gone higher, judges and veterinarians aren’t surprised by anything they come across.  Their job is to just stay ahead of the owners who are unethical.






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2:57PM PDT on Oct 21, 2010

Is it just me or can anyone else see a pattern when it comes to animals being treated badly by people, it all comes down to money/greed, bloody minded selfishness and total ignorance.

8:11AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

This is horrible!!!! I hate it and show officials should do everything in their power to stop it.

5:11PM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

The paragraph about interbreeding dairy and beef is totally stupid. First of all, what exactly does the ill-informed author think is being injected? Beef and dairy crosses are made all the time. I believe the author is referring to AI (artificial insemination) which uses beef semen to fertilize a dairy cow. Many use this practice to restore musculature and strength to dairy cows, which have been bred for milk production and not muscle. A naturally muscular dairy cow will eat more to produce the same amount of milk, because she uses some of the protein for muscle maintenance, but she is a much healthier cow. This author seems ignorant about farm animals except a boo-hoo attitude towards farming. And please don't equate 4-H with all state fair entries. Most state fairs have a completely separate category for 4-H competitors (kids) and commercial competitors (farming adults).

2:02AM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

The poor animals!

10:12PM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

No no and no!!!

2:37PM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

Animal doping should neither be expected or allowed!

11:46AM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

Another pathetic example of idiot humans treating animals like crap. Someone needs to hold these people down and pump them full of drugs and see how they like it. People suck!

10:23AM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

Sharon, I don't mean to quibble, but isn't a steer a NEUTERED bull? Hard to make money from breeding a neutered guy! The champion steers are sold for meat. The breed stock are in a different catagory.

7:42AM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

I hate the way people abuse animals!

8:50PM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

This is terrible!!! :( Shared on Facebook!!!

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