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Serving: IN

No chickens at Indiana fairs this year

No chickens at Indiana fairs this year
Indiana State Board of Health acts to prevent spread of avian flu.

"Who will give me $5 for choice chicken in that cage? Do I have $5? Well give me $3 and let's go!"

If you attend an auction barn where you're used to hearing the auctioneer sing out that chant, you won't be hearing it for a while for any type of poultry. Several sale barns sell small animals, including poultry, at their weekly sales before moving on to goats, hogs, sheep and cattle.

Related: 2015 bird flu outbreak largest in U.S. history

You won't find poultry exhibits at county or state fairs this year either. Purdue Extension 4-H leaders have already issued news releases encouraging kids who normally exhibit chickens to find other ways to learn from the poultry project this year.

Public sale and exhibition ban: You can still raise and even sell chickens, but only through private sales. The Indiana Board of Health has banned shows and public sales where comingling happens until further notice.

It's all about the threat of avian bird flu. It's already blamed for as many as 40 million chicken deaths in primarily upper Midwest states. So far, the only case in Indiana was in a backyard flock in the northeastern part of the state. That was enough to cause BOAH to hold an emergency meeting, and issue a ban on poultry comingling through auctions and exhibition until further notice.

Denise Derrer, director of communications for BOAH, says the disease of concern is officially known as H5 avian influenza. The official action "ceases all bird movements to events in the state that allow comingling of birds from different locations," Derrer says.

That means the ban applies to shows, exhibitions, and public sales, including flea markets, swap meets and sale barns. The ban stands until further notice, she notes. While not definite, she expects it will continue until the end of 2015.

What's not banned are private sales of poultry between individuals.

Bret Marsh, state veterinarian, says the decision required lots of thought. They finally took the action to protect the health of small, backyard flocks as well as a vibrant poultry industry within Indiana.

Sources say the flu poses little risk to human health.

Related: USDA, CDC officials answer avian flu questions

A public comment opportunity on how to reopen these activities will be held later this month. If you notice illness in any birds in your flock call 866-536-7593. If you find five or more dead feeder-type wild birds, contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 812- 334-1137.

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