116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS -- With no new cases of bird flu in Iowa since May 2, the state on Friday lifted a ban on live bird exhibitions.
This was great news to JD Otterbein, the Linn County youth coordinator for Iowa State University Extension, who has been planning the 4-H poultry show for June 25 at the Linn County Fair, which runs June 22-26.
“We are moving forward with a show in person right now,” Otterbein said Friday morning. “We had some tentative backup plans I was really hopeful we weren’t going to have to use.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on March 23 instituted the ban on live bird exhibitions at fairs and other gatherings due to the bird flu, a highly-contagious disease transmitted from wild birds to commercial and backyard flocks.
Iowa has had 19 outbreaks, the first reported in early March in Pottawattamie County in western Iowa and the most recent involving 46 birds in Bremer County. More than 13 million birds, mostly egg-laying chickens, were euthanized in Iowa — the nation’s No. 1 state for egg-laying hens.
Otterbein had planned for a bird-free poultry show in which youth competitors would compete based on photos and videos of their birds. She also added a poultry quiz bowl.
But as bird flu cases waned across Iowa and the nation, Otterbein was hopeful competitors could bring their birds to the show.
“We have maybe 15 kids exhibiting poultry this year,” she said. “We have everything from laying hens to a pheasant I have signed up now. There are pigeons, ducks, and broiler chickens.”
Kids and teens in Linn County and Benton County 4-H are raising broilers from chicks donated by Interstate Grain Service in Center Point, Otterbein said. After judging concludes, the birds are processed and donated to HACAP to help feed hungry Eastern Iowans.
For the poultry shows, competitors get their birds cleaned up and ready to present to the judges. Scores are based on the condition of the bird, such as whether it has broken feathers; how closely the bird compares to the poultry standard of perfection; and how well the 4-H member handles the bird and speaks about it.
The bird flu has presented some additional learning opportunities for 4-H members, Otterbein said.
“We hosted a workshop early in the season and talked with them about biosecurity,” she said. They talked about ways to keep chickens safe, such as washing hands, limiting visitors to the coop and having clean shoes.
“Making sure the shoes you wear into the coop aren’t the same ones you wear to the mall,” she said. “They are learning and using their critical thinking skills.”
The 4-H poultry show 9 a.m. to noon June 25 is open to the public, but members of the community can also see the birds and talk with their owners throughout the fair, Otterbein said. The event is at the Linn County Fairgrounds.
Comments: (319) 339-3157; firstname.lastname@example.org