No harm, no fowl at New York fairs this year

May 20, 2015

There won’t be any crowing contests or poultry competitions at the New York State Fair this year. The decision is a proactive one, in response to the spread of a strain of avian flu.

The directive comes from the New York State Department of Agriculture, which is watching the spread of strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to state veterinarian Dr. David Smith.

“There are two particular subtypes of the virus called H5N2 and H5N8 that are responsible for some very significant death losses in the Midwest currently,” Smith said.

New York is joining other states in banning poultry competitions at both the state fair and county fairs as a way to stop the spread of the deadly flu to farms and chickens in the state.

“We’re most concerned about situations where birds are coming from many different farms, being brought together in close quarters, and then going out again into many different farms,” Smith said.

What does that mean for the fair and the popular poultry building? Acting Director Troy Waffner has a plan.

“We’re going to put up some nice interpretive signage explaining what is going on, and then expand on the other displays that are in our poultry building such as rabbits and other animals,” Waffner said.

Estimates say between 1,200 and 1,300 birds of all types take up residence at the poultry building during the twelve days of the fair.

So far the flu hasn’t turned up in any New York state poultry, but it has killed thousands of chickens and other birds in the Midwest.