BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (WCMH) – An award-winning lamb is under investigation after veterinarians at the Logan County Fair discovered illicit drugs in its system.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture says the grand champion market lamb showed by a young 4-H member between July 7-13 tested positive for diuretics before it was sent to slaughter.
“We don’t know how it got in there, and we may never know. But it’s the exhibitor’s responsibility to present an animal to the fair for competition that’s free of all of those,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, the state veterinarian at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Dr. Forshey explained diuretics cause dehydration and can make an animal’s muscles feel leaner. The drug not only gives exhibitors an unfair advantage, but it can also contaminate the meat.
“More importantly is the food safety aspect,” said Forshey. “We don’t want any of these animals going into the human food chain that are carrying adulterated products.”
Friday, 4-H members at the Franklin County Fair were showing their animals.
Brothers Hawkins and Jute Marihugh have both been participating in the market category for several years. They explained part of the process is learning the effects of different feeds and medicines and studying quality assurance.
“It’s really important because you know how to take care of your animal, you know if it gets sick what you do, you can inform other people about it that don’t know and it’s just a really great learning experience,” said Jute Marihugh, 11.
Hawkins Marihugh’s market ducks won grand champion in this year’s competition. The state requires every market grand champion and reserve champion to be drug-tested before they’re sent to market.
Exhibitors learn about the importance of preventing contamination during an annual 4-H conference.
“You don’t want an animal with a ton of drugs in it because it might not be safe to eat and everything,” said Hawkins Marihugh, 13. “So that’s why I think it’s pretty important to have good quality stuff.”
The Department of Agriculture is still investigating the Logan County case and interviewing the parties involved. When it concludes the investigation, the county fair board will determine whether the exhibitor and animal will forfeit their awards.
The lamb is being held until the drugs are no longer in its system so it can be taken to market.