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Heat is major concern as Ag Expo opens today

July 21, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SHARPSBURG - Heat cost Brenna House the sale of one of her pigs at last year's Washington County Ag Expo.

Brenna, 16, said the pig was too hot and wouldn't eat or drink. It dropped weight, and she wasn't able to sell it at the market sale. This year, she and her sisters said they planned to keep their animals cool and comfortable.

As 4-H members from across the county took their animals and exhibits to the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, they said Thursday night that they were concerned about high temperatures and the effect on their livestock.

The Ag Expo begins today and runs through July 28.

Karlie Hose, 15, of Clear Spring, said she has been showing animals at the Ag Expo for about six years. This year, she has three beef steers and four heifers.

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Karlie was cleaning and brushing the animals Thursday.

"They'll stay as clean as possible until the show on Tuesday," she said.

They also will stay as cool as possible.

With temperatures for most of the Ag Expo expected to be in the 80s, according to www.accuweather.com, many competitors said they plan to keep fans pointed at the animals and wet them down frequently with water.

"Heat is a concern because sometimes, the (animals) won't eat," Hose said. "That can cause them to lose weight."

Shane Heizer, 10, of Hagerstown, said this will be his second Ag Expo, but the first year he will be selling an animal - a steer. He and his father, John Heizer, worked to get the stall ready for the steer and the heifer he will compete with.

They hooked up a large fan to one of the wooden posts that will point at the animals.

Shane said the heat can cause the animals not to look their best, so he's going to be working hard to keep them clean.

"We'll rinse them off every day," he said.

Travis Rhoton, 15, of Williamsport, has two pigs, three steers and one heifer entered in the Ag Expo. He brought a fan from home Thursday that was keeping his pigs cool.

Travis said it was his first year showing pigs, and he will sell both of them and two steers. Travis said he is saving the money he makes from the animals for a truck.

Katie Frey, 15, of Smithsburg, said she is showing 14 sheep, as well as hogs and rabbits. She also is competing in the fashion show.

Katie said she has been working hard, and thinks her sheep have a good chance of winning grand champion.

"We've switched the sheep, so they're better looking, and they're also behaving more," she said.

Brenna and her sisters, Hannah, 14, and Rachel, 12, are showing several exhibits, and also have sheep and pigs. They were setting up their exhibits, including sewing, gardening, cooking and photography Thursday night, and said they were bringing the animals today.

Hannah said aside from the high temperatures, just traveling to the education center can make the animals stop eating and lose weight.

"Heat is definitely a concern," Brenna said. "But we're going to make sure they are OK."

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