Cancellation of live bird exhibitions at Ohio’s fairs this year, due to the threat of Avian flu, is disappointing for some 185 Delaware County 4-H members, but there’s still a lesson to be learned.
“The negative impacts of avian influenza are certainly a tremendous disappointment,” said Jacci Smith, Delaware County OSU Extension program coordinator for Ag/4-H Youth Development. “At the same time, it’s also an opportunity to learn important life lessons in effectively coping with and responding to challenging situations.
“They won’t be showing the live animals they originally had intended to show, but they will be learning how a disease can affect an animal and an industry.”
Two weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Agriculture canceled all live bird exhibitions at Ohio’s fairs during 2015, including at the Hartford Independent Fair, the Delaware County Fair and the Ohio State Fair. The ban was put in place to protect Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from the current avian flu outbreak affecting the United States.
Big Walnut High School ag science teacher and BW/DACC FFA adviser Jeff Stimmell said five Big Walnut High School/DACC FFA members have bird projects that would be impacted by the ban.
But the ban has a wider impact. There are 65 4-H Clubs in Delaware County, serving 1,300 youths, many with live bird projects – chickens, turkeys and ducks.
Smith said Ohio 4-H is supporting the agriculture department’s decision to cancel all live bird exhibitions at county and independent fairs in 2015.
Smith said 185 Delaware County 4-H members have live bird projects they have been preparing for fair season – almost 15 percent of county 4-H’ers.
Project areas affected are: fancy chicken (74 projects), chicken egg production (48), market chicken (80), duck (10), market duck (10), guinea fowl (3), fancy turkey (9), and market turkey (41).
“Members are not permitted to switch projects since enrollment and registration deadlines are past,” Smith said. “Delaware County Fair exhibitors should continue raising their turkeys, ducks, fancy and production poultry as planned, but will not be allowed to bring them to the fair. They’ll still complete their projects and bring posters and poultry books to the fair for judging.”
Smith said live bird projects would be judged during bird processing at The Poultry Barn in Ostrander to determine champion and reserve market poultry projects. Club members have options for showmanship and the skillathon.
For additional information, contact Smith at the Delaware County OSU Extension, 740-833-2030, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Hartford Independent Fair information about the ODA live bird ban, contact the Licking County OSU Extension at 740-670-5315, or email Lisa McCutcheon, Licking County Extension educator, 4-H Youth Development, at email@example.com.