Youngsters participating in 4-H will not have the opportunity to show chickens or other poultry at this year’s Delaware County Fair.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture on Tuesday announced a ban of all live bird exhibitions as a proactive measure to prevent the spread of avian flu, which has impacted 44 million birds in other poultry-producing states across the country.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Bill Lowe, the fair’s manager. “It’s certainly going to be disappointing to kids who had planned on showing a chicken or a duck at the fair. But in light of the ramifications of the bird flu, it’s the right thing to do.”
The ban includes county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or sale, including auctions and swap meets.
Lowe said the ban will likely have little impact on the fair. However, poultry shows have been growing more and more popular over the years.
“With Delaware County being what we’ve become, with fewer and fewer farms, the smaller animals are easier for kids to raise and show rather than steers and that type of thing,” he said. “The trend that we’ve seen over the years is that the smaller animals are growing and the larger animals are decreasing.”
Ohio is the second largest egg producer in the county and the state’s poultry industry is worth $2.3 billion.
“This was a difficult decision because it means young people can’t show their birds at fairs, but it’s in the best interest of an industry that literally thousands of Ohio families and businesses depend on and which provides billions of dollars to our state’s economy,” Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels said in a prepared statement. “The right move isn’t always the easy move, but this is the right move, especially when you see just how devastating the virus has been to other big poultry states like Iowa and Minnesota. Ohioans need to do all we can to ensure that we protect our industry and that we help avoid a costly spike in the price of important foods like chicken, turkey and eggs,”