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Poultry show returns to Rock County Fair

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

Chickens, ducks and turkeys made their return to last week’s Rock County Fair.
After a year hiatus to halt the statewide spread of a deadly avian influenza virus, the local poultry show went forward as if the May 15, 2015, ban didn’t happen.
“I think we had a good show,” said poultry superintendent Beth Kalass.
In her 21 years working with the poultry project, she said the program’s numbers have fluctuated over the years mainly due to experienced 4-H’ers graduating from the program.
Prior to last year’s ban, the fair had 25 pens of poultry. This year there were 19 pens.
Wayne Fischer from Arlington, South Dakota, judged the July 27 Rock County 4-H poultry show.
He said the ban on poultry shows was lifted this fall after reports of the N5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza ceased.
Minnesota lifted the ban Dec. 1.
Fischer was worried local shows wouldn’t regain their popularity.
“Last year was very different for us at the 4-H and open show levels,” he said. “We judged everything but live birds.”
Exhibitors used pictures of their fowl for showmanship evaluation, and other shows including last year’s Minnesota State Fair had participants assembling posters and displays on various poultry topics.
Fischer, who judged the Minnesota state show, likened last year’s event to a science fair with focus on poultry health, nutrition and breeding.
There have been no reports of the N5N2 this year, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.
Last year, more than 4 million chickens and turkeys were euthanized in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.
The cause has remained unknown.
Experts suspected migratory birds carried the virus throughout the state with people, equipment and vehicles bringing the virus to barns and backyard coops, indicated poultry judge Fischer.
He attended several industry follow-up meetings about the avian flu outbreak.
It’s almost impossible to predict if the deadly influenza strain will return.
“It’s like the human flu that can mutate from year to year,” Fischer said.