Chickens can’t even cross the road, much less go to the Kansas State Fair this year.
A ban by the Kansas Department of Agriculture has stopped birds in their tracks, in an attempt to prevent the spread of bird flu or H5N2 avian influenza. The order cancels all poultry -- and bird-related shows and events -- through 2015.
“That means not only for 4-H projects, that means no (poultry at) swap meets and no transportation of poultry anywhere,” Rod Schaub, a livestock agent, told The Ottawa Herald this week.
There’s certainly a few heartbroken young people in 4-H. Schaub figures about 2,200 4-H members statewide spend the year raising chickens, ducks, turkeys and other fowl to display at county fairs. Some 1,200 to 1,500 exhibits of poultry and pigeons make it to the state fair, director Denny Stoecklein told The News.
Adults are disappointed, too. It’s difficult for us to imagine a state fair without chickens. The poultry barn has always been one of our favorites. It’s part of the beauty of living in the heartland.
Chickens come in so many varieties, some seem exotic. There are wyandottes, Long Island reds, jersey giants, faverolles, langshans and leghorns.
That said, we applaud fair and agricultural officials for protecting the birds we love, following bans in neighboring states including Missouri and Nebraska.
One case turned up in Leavenworth this year, and most reported cases of the disease to the U.S. Department of Agriculture have surfaced in nearby Iowa and Minnesota. One case in Iowa was reported Tuesday, the same day Kansas announced its ban. So far, more than 47 million birds have been killed. The CDC still considers the risk to humans low.
We’re hoping the ban helps get control of this flu that puts these birds in peril and conceivably could mutate into a form that might jump to humans.
After all, we don’t want a dangerous outbreak. We want to keep vigilance against this diseases.
And we don't want to see too many fairs without chickens.