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4-H Poultry Exhibitions Halted in Michigan

Published: Friday, May 13, 2022

After much deliberation and consultation with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland, MDARD's Director, Gary McDowell, has decided to stop 2022 poultry and waterfowl exhibitions in Michigan until such time that the state goes 30 days without a new detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry. This decision is effective immediately to further protect against the spread of HPAI, helping to keep Michigan's domestic poultry flocks safe.

This stop does include (but is not limited to) shows, exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs, and game bird/waterfowl fair displays. This stop does NOT include or affect egg hatching exhibits, pigeon races or zoos.

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. As new cases of HPAI continue to be identified across the nation and in Michigan, bringing in poultry from different flocks to a central location creates a significant risk.

So far this year, Michigan has responded to 12 cases of HPAI in non-commercial backyard flocks from nine different counties across both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

"MDARD is committed to protecting the health of all Michigan's domestic birds. Preventative measures are the best and only tools we have to limit the negative impact of HPAI. By exercising this necessary precaution, we can wait for the warmer, drier weather needed to kill the virus without creating conditions that could worsen the problem," said Dr. Wineland. "By taking this step now, it is hoped that poultry exhibitors can still participate in fair activities once circumstances have improved."

MDARD will continue to monitor the situation and work in conjunction with the Michigan Assn. of Fairs and Exhibitions, Michigan State University Extension, 4-H programs and other partners to notify and advise exhibitors regarding when these activities can resume and how to conduct them safely.

"While the stop on poultry exhibitions is not ideal, the safety of our exhibitors, attendees and animals is of the utmost importance to our fairs," said Lisa Reiff, executive director Michigan Assn. of Fairs and Exhibitions. "When poultry exhibitions were canceled in 2015, many fairs thought outside the box to allow exhibitors an opportunity to highlight their projects in unique ways without live exhibitions. Fairs are already planning ways for poultry to still be a part of the fair in a non-traditional way that will keep everyone safe."

"Our 4-H families are often on the leading edge of biosecurity," said Jake DeDecker, Michigan State University Extension state 4-H leader. "We will work closely with MDARD and MAFE to make sure that we address this issue head on."

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