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Poultry exhibitors need to be smart this show season

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Bans on poultry shows are being lifted across the country following improvements on avian flu outbreaks. However, it’s integral that exhibitors know how to keep their birds and themselves as safe as possible this show season. Affecting thousands of youth exhibitors, shows were initially shut down in many states following outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in domestic poultry

The flu began spreading throughout the United States earlier this year, resulting in the euthanasia of millions of birds in the country. Avian influenza is spread between wild and domestic birds and by contact with infected supplies or caretakers. So far, 1,635 wild birds, 40,088,810 domestic poultry, and one human have been diagnosed with avian flu. 

Know the signs of avian influenza, image courtesy of USDA-APHIS

Know if your area has lifted its show ban

Be sure to check with your local state’s department of agriculture and your fair boards to see if bans on shows are being lifted in your area. Some of the states who have already announced a lift on poultry show bans include Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Oklahoma plans to lift its ban tomorrow.  

States that are lifting bans are doing so after 30 days or more without detecting any new infections in domestic poultry. The majority of flocks that were affected by avian flu were infected by wild bird populations.

Image courtesy of USDA-APHIS

“Even though the state has been able to reach this incredibly important benchmark, this does not mean the virus has left Michigan,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in the statement. “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.”


Plan ahead before you attend shows

Despite the lift on bans, exhibitors should prepare to put biosecurity measures into place before traveling to any shows. Parents, youth, and adult exhibitors can all utilize these recommended best practice to protect their poultry:

  • Limit visitors on your farm, and near your show pens if you travel
  • Ensure that everyone washes their hands before and after coming into contact with live poultry
  • Use boot covers and gloves in your facilities if possible, removing fecal matter from all clothing and disinfecting before allowing anyone to come into contact with your birds
  • Keep a change of clean clothes to use before and after entering your pens
  • Disinfect all equipment and tools between each use
  • Clean and disinfect carriers and cages between each use
  • Know the warning signs of infected birds:
    • Sudden death without signs
    • Lack of energy and appetite
    • Decreased egg production or malformed eggs
    • Swelling of body parts, purple discoloration of wattles, combs, and legs
    • Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing
    • Discoordination
    • Diarrhea 
  • Report sick birds to your state veterinarian or cooperative extension services.
  • Quarantine any new birds, or birds who have attended a show for at least 21 days after returning home. 
  • Do not bring birds that exhibit any abnormal signs to shows – leave them at home.
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