Poultry banned from Michigan's county fairs this year
There will be something missing from the state's 80 county fairs and 4-H exhibitions this year.
Michigan's State Veterinarian, James Averill, has banned showings of chickens and other birds as a precaution, in response to the epidemic of avian flu that's caused the deaths of tens of millions of birds in other states like Iowa.
Michigan Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Jennifer Holton says it was a difficult decision.
"We know the tremendous amount of time, money, and passion kids and all these other exhibitors invest in their birds," says Holton, "and the importance of having animals at these events to interact with the public. But the rapid spread of this virus has been historic, and we had to make the decision to protect the health of all the state's poultry flock, both backyard and commercial farmers."
Michigan has not yet had a case of the highly infectious strain of avian flu that's forced farmers in a number of states to slaughter their flocks, and Holton says the state wants to keep it that way.
Holton says kids in 4-H programs can show off their knowledge in other ways this year, like making poultry models or poster displays or participating in contests.
County fairs and local exhibitors are encouraged to go to the MSU Extension website - msue.msu.edu/poultryshows - to get a list of options for poultry exhibitors. Those options include suggestions for showmanship, breed classes, market classes and auctions.