Reed Potter of New Vineyard holds one of his chickens he’s raising as a 4-H project. He had hoped to enter the poultry show at Farmington Fair this week, but it was canceled because of cases of avian influenza in flocks in five Maine counties. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — Local 4-H members must wait another year to show their poultry at the Farmington Fair because of cases of avian influenza, or bird flu, in flocks around the state.

Reed Potter of New Vineyard was hoping to sell his birds at the 4-H auction at the fair this week. A member since 2018, he said it was fun showing his poultry that first year before the coronavirus pandemic.

“I kind of forgot what it was like,” he said. “I was looking forward to doing it this year.

Potter raises a variety of poultry, including ducks, geese, turkeys, Cornish-rock cross meat chickens and Black Sex Link laying hens. His turkeys, meat birds and laying hens are part of his 4-H poultry project. He also has sheep, swine and gardening projects this year.

“That first year I didn’t know you could wash your birds with water,” he said. “I didn’t do that, everyone else did. My birds are free range, they take dust baths, go outside. Mine were bright white chickens.”

“I got first place,” Potter said.


“The judges provide such good feedback,” UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H professional Tara Marble said.

Fair Secretary Neal Yeaton said the auction is already on the calendar for next year.

Potter has other options to sell his birds, although it’s not as easy as selling them at the fair.

“My aunt buys a lot of stuff from me,” he said. “We have some friends at Farmington Farmers Union that like to buy things from us.”

James Davis, 12, and his sister Sophia Davis, 11, also show their chickens at the fair, their mother, Amanda Davis, said in an email Tuesday.

“They are disappointed about not being able to bring their chickens to the fair,” she wrote. “They enjoy competing with their chickens, seeing what place they get. The money they get from showing their poultry they use toward taking care of them.”

Fair poultry supervisor Mike Turner said he will try to have posters and information about avian flu available. He said if the disease diminishes, poultry may be a possibility at the fair next year.

Signs and symptoms of bird flu infections in people can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue, headaches, eye redness or conjunctivitis, and difficulty breathing. Other possible symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. As with seasonal flu, some people are at high risk of getting very sick from bird flu infections, including pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 and older, according to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Reed Potter of New Vineyard takes part in the 4-H poultry project. Some of his flock is seen here. He had planned to show them at Farmington Fair but all poultry shows have been canceled this year. Submitted photo

Comments are no longer available on this story