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Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work: Large Animals—Livestock

Chad Carr, Saundra TenBroeck, Wendy DeVito, Chris Strong, Dale Pracht, and Georgene Bender

This publication is best viewed as a pdf.

This is one publication in the series Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work. This series is intended to provide UF/IFAS Extension county faculty, staff, volunteers, and youth with the knowledge they need to implement best practices in risk management strategies.

Our goal is to conduct educational events and activities that uphold the 4-H mission and mandates while protecting the participants, sponsors, property, finances, and goodwill and reputation of the 4-H name. The inherent risk of events and activities can be mitigated through planning and preparation. This risk management guide has been created to outline ways to prepare for and deal with the specific risks associated with your program.

Early planning is key to conducting successful events and activities. A helpful tool in this process is the Pre-Event Planning Guide and Matrix As you work through this matrix, you may have questions that are unique to your situation and might not be completely answered by the series. Extension faculty and staff will refer these questions to appropriate personnel. Questions that require time for research highlight the need for early planning.

This publication will address risks in the following six categories:

  1. Injuries to People

  2. Injuries to Animals

  3. Risk of Property Damage

  4. Biosecurity—Diseases Transmitted to Humans

  5. Biosecurity—Diseases Transmitted between Animals

  6. General Precautions


Your job as the coordinator of a youth livestock event is to ensure that 1) all people and animals stay as safe, healthy, and stress-free as possible, 2) the event is as educational as possible, and 3) no damage is inflicted upon the property.

Most people involved in youth livestock exhibition are familiar with the physical risks of handling and transporting livestock, but public spectators generally need more instruction and supervision to ensure their safety and health.

Livestock species can carry microorganisms that can cause diarrhea and flu-like symptoms in humans. These microorganisms can be shed in an animal's feces and saliva. Organisms of concern, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli, can also survive on an animal's hide or surroundings. These pathogens can cause significant illness, especially in very young, very old, or immunocompromised attendees. All attendees should avoid hand-to-mouth contact after touching animals until their hands can be thoroughly washed. It is prudent to post sanitation reminder signs and provide hand wash or sanitizer stations whenever possible.

Livestock exhibition is a fairly small component of American animal agriculture, but it is the most visible teaching tool for the public. This increased level of exposure has its risks. If a foreign animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease enters the US, it would be catastrophic to domestic animal agriculture. Public livestock exhibitions would be one of the first casualties of animal disease. States have taken measures to prevent the entry of livestock diseases that have been eliminated from their herds, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, and pseudorabies, by setting requirements for arriving animals. These requirements should be met to continue the traditions of livestock exhibitions.

Additional concerns not accounted for within the above categories are weather extremes, disgruntled exhibitors and/or family members, and protestors—all of which are addressed under the heading of General Precautions in the table.


American Income Life1 (AIL, accident insurance should be secured as it is for any other 4-H event. In addition, most facilities will require liability insurance to be purchased for the event. State facilities will likely be covered under the State of Florida umbrella policy. County and private facilities often require proof of a $1 million liability policy. For more information, refer to Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work: Insurance (Pracht et al. 2010) and Florida 4-H Policies (

Additional liability insurance can be purchased from companies1 such as K&K Insurance (, Advantage Equine Agency (, and Francis L. Dean & Associates (

1 Insurance companies listed here are not an endorsement by UF/IFAS Extension or Florida 4-H, nor are event planners limited to working with only these companies. The insurance providers are listed as examples of companies that specialize in sport, recreation, and/or animal event insurance.

Appendix Tables

The following tables list a variety of potential risks and suggestions regarding risk prevention or mitigation. Obviously, not all potential risks are listed because it is impossible to foresee all potential situations, especially when animals are involved. The average risk level for each group of risks is shown on a chart from the Pre-Event Planning Matrix document ( The majority of the risks listed could result in anything from very minor to severe injuries to death. The chart reflects the level of injury most likely to occur. As a reminder, the key to the matrix headers follows.



Levels of Severity

I. Could result in death.

II. Could result in severe injury, major property damage, significant financial loss, and/or negative publicity for the organization and/or institution.

III. Could result in minor injury, illness, property damage, financial loss, and/or negative publicity for the organization and/or institution.

IV. Hazard presents a minimal threat to safety, health, and well-being of participants.

Probability That Something Will Go Wrong

A. Likely to occur immediately or in a short period of time; expected to occur frequently.

B. Probably will occur in time.

C. Could occur in time.

D. Unlikely to occur.

Please note that that the suggestions given on how to prevent and/or mitigate the risks listed are not official 4-H policy ( They are simply best practices you might consider as you tailor your own risk management plans.


Creating a risk management plan for youth livestock events does not mean you will identify every possible risk. Studying the examples in the tables and completing your own risk plans encourages you to slow down and think about various situations that may arise and ways to mitigate the associated risks. After completing due diligence when planning educational events and activities, you will find that the benefits of youth programming almost always outweigh the risks.


2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Exhibitor Handbook. 2015. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Accessed November 2015.

Carr, C. C., J. D. Crosswhite, J. Shike, and H. Shultz. 2011. Conducting a Successful Livestock Show for Youth. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Accessed November 2015.

Carr, C. C. and J. D. Crosswhite. 2011. Best Practice Checklist for Management of a Swine Show for Youth. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Accessed November 2015.

Florida 4-H. 2010. "Pre-Event Planning Guide and Matrix." Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Accessed November 2015.

International Association of Fairs and Expositions. 2014. "National Code of Show Ring Ethics." Accessed November 2015.

National Pork Board. 2013. "Swine Health Recommendations: Organizers of Exhibitions and Sales." National Pork Board. Accessed November 2015

Nold, R., D. R. Smith, and M. C. Brumm. 2004. "Preventing the Spread of Animal Diseases — Applications for Youth Livestock Shows." U. of Nebraska Extension. Accessed November 2015.

Pracht, D., M. Norman, K. Fogarty, and J. Hink. 2010. Risk Management for 4-H Youth Development Work: Insurance. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Accessed November 2015.

Additional Information Can Be Found at the Following Websites

Kansas State Youth Livestock Safety project

Cornell Extension


Table 1. 

Injuries to people.

Table 2. 

Injuries to animals.

Table 3. 

Risk of property damage.

Table 4. 

Biosecurity (diseases transmitted to humans from animals).

Table 5. 

Biosecurity (diseases transmitted from animals to animals).

Table 6. 

General precautions.


Publication #AN321

Date: 3/12/2019

Related Experts

Tenbroeck, Saundra H.

University of Florida

Pracht, Dale

University of Florida

Carr, Chad

University of Florida

Bender, Georgene

University of Florida

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: Youth
Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is AN321, one of a series of the Animal Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2015. Revised January 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Chad Carr, associate professor, Department of Animal Sciences; Saundra TenBroeck, associate professor, Department of Animal Sciences; Wendy DeVito, Youth Programs coordinator, Department of Animal Sciences; Chris Strong, Youth Programs coordinator, Department of Animal Sciences; Dale Pracht, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; and Georgene Bender, Regional Specialized 4-H Youth agent III; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


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