Poultry OK, Waterfowl Not as Del. State Fair Begins - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Poultry OK, Waterfowl Not as Del. State Fair Begins

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HARRINGTON, Del. (WBOC)- The Delaware State Fair is not being chicken about chickens. Poultry are at the fair right now despite concerns nationwide about avian flu.

An outbreak of the disease in the Midwest has led to the deaths or terminations of 48 million birds so far. And many people are worried that outbreak could hit Delmarva and its huge poultry industry.

Amanda Hennen is a Smyrna High School student. She belongs to Future Farmers of America. And Friday morning she was working with some chickens at the fair.

"I was judging laying hens on different types of qualities they have," she said.

At the poultry barn, exhibitors brought in bunches of birds Friday afternoon. There are more than 1,000 birds at the state fair every year.

"All the animals are inspected before they come on grounds here at the Delaware State Fair," said Danny Aguilar, head of marketing for the fair.
Aguilar says safety is paramount.

Part of maintaining that safety was a June decision by the Delaware Agriculture Department to not allow waterfowl at the 2015 state fair. According to Bob Moore, inspector supervisor for the department and fair livestock chair, that kept away about 150 birds.

"They can have Avian Flu and not show any symptoms," he said. "So, we didn't want to take a chances here at the state fair with so many birds congregating in one area at one time."

Moore says any bird entering the grounds has been tested for Avian Flu in the past three weeks.

"It could be devastating if avian influenza did strike here. So, we don't want anything to happen through the backyard flocks, which are here, that could cause a problem for the commercial flocks," said Moore. 

For now the poultry can stay. And that's a welcome decision for Hennen and Milford High School student Sage Culver. 

"Considering how many chickens have been contaminated with the flu, it's kind of a miracle that we're still able to do this today," Culver said. 

"I am glad that the chickens are here," said Hennen. "The chickens that are here have been taken care of, so it's not fair for the ones that have been taken care of and have been treated right not to be able to be shown off." 

This week Maryland's Department of Agriculture announced a ban on all poultry exhibitions at fairs and shows starting in late August. 

Moore says no such declaration was needed for Delaware. He says Maryland has lots of small fairs, like county fairs, to worry about. Delaware does not.

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