Show-birds banned from 2022 county fairs

Experts weigh in on the decision surrounding Avian flu.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 11:17 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ILLINOIS (WIFR) - A decision across the state of Illinois decides to ban birds from livestock competitions at county fairs, as the number of bird flu cases rise.

“Any time we have a situation such as avian influenza which is highly infectious. We want to avoid commingling of, in this case, birds,” said state veterinarian Dr. Mark Ernst.

Bird flu spreads rapidly when different flocks are brought together, or when the people who handle them go from one flock to another. This happens often at county fairs.

“We don’t want that commingling to occur and then everybody to go home and potentially, you know all it takes is one bird in one flock to spread to additional flocks then,” Ernst told 23 News.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture didn’t make the decision lightly to pull live poultry showings at all of the state’s fairs. As of June more than 40 million chickens and turkeys had died from the illness and another surge is expected this fall.

“We normally have about 700 birds exhibited in the poultry barn,” said Boone County Fair spokesperson Tom Ratcliffe.

The Boone County Fair will give its competitions a twist. Ratcliffe says kids will bring in posters of their birds.

“The posters are gonna be auctioned off at the auction on Saturday afternoon,” he said.

Despite the faraway flocks, the fair plans to offer a ton of animal fun.

“We have one of the best draft horse shows in the country, we have a great dairy show, beef, sheep, goats, we have a huge pony show, rabbits, we still have 2100 head of livestock out here,” said Ratcliffe.

The draft horse show will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 13. There will even be an alpaca costume show on the last day of the fair.

Copyright 2022 WIFR. All rights reserved.