It’s five months before the first Indiana county fairs kick off this year, and anything can change. But at this point, you might be surprised at what the Indiana Board of Animal Health’s Denise Derrer is saying about possible bans on exhibiting poultry at county fairs and selling poultry at auctions and markets. She’s saying there won’t be a ban.
People began to ask Extension youth educators that question only days after an outbreak of avian flu hit southwest Indiana. One turkey flock was diagnosed with highly pathogenic H7N8 avian flu virus. Nine other flocks at press time had tested positive, but eight had low pathogenicH7N8 and the ninth was yet to be determined.
A ban on all poultry exhibition and sales at auctions or other local venues was implemented by BOAH in 2015 after a backyard flock of chickens in northeast Indiana tested positive for the avian flu strain that raced through Iowa and Minnesota last year, resulting in the deaths of more than 48 million birds. No other infected birds were ever identified in Indiana other than that one small backyard flock, Derrer says. And that strain was a different one than what caused problems in turkeys in southern Indiana recently.
Looking back, and forward
Poultry exhibits were missing at county fairs a year ago. Some fairs opted to let 4-H members make posters to complete their projects. No poultry was exhibited at the 2015 Indiana State Fair either. The ban was lifted by BOAH late last year.
Derrer is emphatic at this point that there will not be a similar ban in 2016. However, more recordkeeping will be required of people who buy poultry at flea markets, auctions, and other places. “We want to be able to trace back to where animals came from should there ever be a problem,” she says.
BOAH is also promoting voluntary entry into the premise ID program for poultry owners. Premise ID was instituted several years ago for most livestock in Indiana, but not poultry. It became an issue when the avian flu outbreak started in southern Indiana. It was more difficult to find everyone who had poultry so the birds within the control area could be tested.
“We have some people down there who are now very interested in getting into the premise ID program,” Derrer concludes.