Poultry requirements changed

The avian flu virus, which has led to the deaths of more than 44 million chickens and turkeys in the Midwest, has yet to be found in Ohio. But state officials said banning all poultry shows is a necessary step to protect Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry.

Although the Madison County Fair’s poultry barn may appear less active this year, it still promises to be energetic as fair planners have explored alternatives and come to a decision regarding this year’s poultry shows.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) recently announced the cancellation of all live poultry shows in Ohio due to an outbreak of highly contagious avian flu that has hit many states, decimating bird flocks around the country.

While there have been no confirmed cases of avian flu in Ohio, David T. Daniels, director of the ODA, recently said the decision was largely preventative.

“We felt that we needed to put this ban in place in order to protect not only those flocks, but also to protect the consumers,” he said, “to make sure that they have got the products that they’re used to putting on their plates, in their homes every day.”

As a result, fair planners around the state have been scrambling to work around the ban or provide alternatives for those who have already begun raising poultry projects.

While the birds stay home, the 4-H children who chose poultry for their projects in Madison County will present their projects on paper rather than in a cage.

Anne Robinette, poultry key leader, said the boys and girls will create posters of their projects.

“It’s up to them to create it,” Robinette said.

It should contain three to five photos of the bird, an explanation of the species and the knowledge the child has gained from raising that bird written in paragraph form.

The posters will be displayed in the Grange Hall and prizes awarded for first through fifth places, within the various age groups.

Poultry exhibitors will be unable to compete in the grand showman of showmen, Robinette pointed out.

Robinette said if the bird is a market species, the raiser will receive the premium the bird brings at the sale. The market birds will be transported to a central location where a processor will take delivery.

There will be a showmanship show on Monday of fair week, but it is based on the child’s knowledge. The bird is not required to attend.

The Madison County Fair will be held July 12-18.

Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.