EATON — Some 200 Preble County Junior Fair participants won’t get to show off their live poultry projects this August, following a ban at the state level on poultry exhibitions and poultry shows.
OSU Extension Educator Christy Millhouse shared the information with Junior Fair participants last week, along with details on how the show will go on.
In a press release last week, the Ohio Department of Agriculture called the move “an aggressive move designed to help protect Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from the avian flu that has so negatively impacted other poultry-producing states.”
The ban includes county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or for sale, including auctions and swap meets.
“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. 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,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels.
“One of the ways avian influenza spreads is by direct contact with contaminated materials coming from other infected birds. This means that exhibitions, auctions and swap meets where birds are co-mingling pose a high risk of unintentionally spreading this disease. Until we can be sure that there has been no transference from the wild bird population migrating through the state, we need to do all we can to minimize the exposure for our domestic birds,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey.
The decision was made on June 3.
“I think the ODA did what they thought was best,” Millhouse said on Friday, June 5.
No birds or poultry products can be brought for exhibition, under the ban. According to Millhouse, Ohio fairs were left to determine what level of participation, if any, 4-H and FFA members with poultry projects could have in this year’s fair.
“It is important to remember that fair exhibition is not a requirement for project completion but is a valuable learning opportunity for youth involved in these organizations,” Millhouse pointed out.
Preble County Senior and Junior Fair leadership, with input from 4-H and FFA representatives, determined a plan for youth who want the opportunity to participate with poultry at the 2015 Preble County Fair.
“We looked at what was the best option,” Millhouse said.
“While live birds are not an option, there are still ways to provide an educational experience for youth that resembles what they have traditionally done,” Millhouse noted.
“This is a good reminder, fair exhibition is not the same as project completion,” she said.
According to Millhouse, options for youth with poultry projects include:
“4-H members should complete the project work required for the 4-H Poultry Project (Project #150) and continue to raise their turkeys, ducks, fryers and fancy poultry as planned.
“Members should also participate in the project book review to be held pre-fair in July as planned. A 4-H member does not have to exhibit to complete his or her project. He or she needs to complete the requirements in the project book.
“Per Ohio 4-H, 4-H members enrolled in poultry projects may not switch to a different project.”
“FFA Poultry exhibitors should complete their Chapter’s required record book (AET, paper book, or Excel)”
“Those members interested in participating in the 2015 Preble County Junior Fair may still participate in showmanship, have a project exhibit, and sell a market project. Members should complete an online fair entry for the classes he or she wishes to enter by the Jr. Fair entry deadline. Those with Fancy Poultry are limited to making two entries. No late entries will be accepted.”
“An exhibitor will bring a picture of his or her chosen breeding bird with the member (choose one of the two entered.)
“The picture will replace the live bird. Showmanship will be based, as usual, heavily on general project knowledge and breed specific knowledge. Members should also be prepared to answered basic questions related to showmanship such as, ‘If I were to ask you to pass me your bird, what would be the correct way to hand me the bird?’
“A showman of showmen will still be selected and will compete in the Showmen of Showman contest. The Showman of Showmen contest will also be similarly adapted and will not use live birds.”
“A member who chooses to exhibit a poultry project at the fair should create a tri-fold poster describing his or her project(s). The poster should include pictures of his or her birds, information about the specific breeds, uses etc. Members with market birds should include those along with the breeding bird(s) on the poster. More specific guidelines for these posters will be available by the end of June. Posters should be completed after these guidelines are available. It is. recommended that exhibitors take pictures of their market birds as they grow.
“The posters will be turned in during DUNF collection and exhibited in the poultry barn during the fair.”
“All members with poultry projects have the opportunity to harvest birds on their own through a local processor.
“Members wishing to participate in the Junior Fair Livestock Sale should meet these requirements:
“Raise a market pen or turkey as part of a 4-H or FFA project.
“Complete the project requirements as outlined by his or her junior fair organization
“Produce hatchery papers or other similar proof of ownership when DUNF’s are collected to verify that the birds were purchased by the member.
“Members will walk through the sale with his or her display and receive a premium bid. Buyers will not have the option to ‘keep’ the animals. Exhibitors will maintain ownership and can process their birds on their own.”
In a press release last week, Ohio 4-H also noted, “While exhibition at a county, independent or state fair is a highlight for many young people and their families, we also know enrollment in specific projects, completion of record books, engagement in specific learning opportunities and participation in skill-a-thons and similar knowledge-based exercises are what make the 4-H project a meaningful and complete experience.”
The release continued, “We recognize that many young people involved in 4-H poultry projects are impacted by this necessary decision and will not have an opportunity to exhibit their live poultry projects. It is important to give young people the supports they need to ensure they have a productive learning experience as they complete their poultry projects. While completion of a 4-H project is not contingent upon exhibition at a fair, it is recognized that this is a meaningful part of the experience for many 4-H members.”