Poultry may return to Calhoun County Fair after state lifts ban

Poultry may return to Calhoun County Fair after state lifts ban

The ban on poultry and waterfowl exhibitions in Michigan has been lifted, increasing the likelihood that live poultry will be shown at the Calhoun County Fair Aug. 13-20.

Implemented as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of a highly pathogenic strain avian influenza, the ban was lifted June 11 by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Poultry and waterfowl exhibitions were halted May 10 until the state went 30 days without a new detection of the virus in domestic poultry. While MDARD did announce a detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial flock the next day, there have been no further cases of the disease in Michigan’s domestic birds, officials said.

“Even though the state has been able to reach this incredibly important benchmark, this does not mean the virus has left Michigan,” Nora Wineland, the state’s veterinarian, said in a press release. “HPAI continues to be detected in wild birds throughout the state, which is not unexpected as the virus is known to be carried by wild birds. Since the virus is still present in the environment, it is still crucial for owners and caretakers of domestic birds to take every possible step to protect their flocks.”

MDARD said it continues to monitor national HPAI trends and quickly respond to reports of sick or dead domestic birds in Michigan.

If there are any additional detections of the virus in domestic flocks, the department will assess the situation and determine if another stop is necessary to reduce the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Tabitha Rivera of Albion holds a Polish rooster.  Rivera's daughters have been members of 4-H since they were 5 years old.

Calhoun County 4-H Program Coordinator Kathy Fischer acknowledged the ban on poultry exhibitions was an important to mitigate the spread of the virus across all flocks in Michigan. Nonetheless, having the ban lifted is “great news” for 4-H poultry participants, she said.

“While we create other opportunities for the youth to participate, it is not the same as having the birds they have worked hard to raise and planned to exhibit,” Fischer said. “There is a chance things could change again, so we keep plan B in our back pockets and the 4-H youth will adjust with us if needed. Part of the learning process with animals especially is dealing with things that don’t go as planned.”

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