Bird exhibitions return in Iowa as avian flu subsides

SLOAN, Iowa (AP) — All spring, Addy Johnson feared a repeat of 2015, when the poultry barn at the Woodbury County Fair featured none of her feathered friends.

“I’d go in there and look at the rabbits and the other side was empty and it was sad,” Addy said.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, had swept the state, forcing commercial producers to destroy millions of chickens and turkeys. To contain the spread of the deadly virus, poultry and bird shows across Iowa were canceled.

Addy and younger sister Brenna faced a repeat of that sad situation this year.

Bird flu again hit Iowa in March, eventually being confirmed at 19 sites, including seven in Northwest Iowa, and forcing producers to destroy hundreds of thousands of birds. On March 23, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship canceled all live bird exhibitions at fairs.

“It was weird. I had like an empty feeling,” Addy told the Sioux City Journal.

She and Brenna already were raising dove and golden pheasant chicks on their rural Sloan acreage for their 4-H projects. It looked like they wouldn’t get the fun of showing them at the fair.

“I was sad,” Brenna said. “Our hope was to wait and pray we would have one (a show).”

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