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Big Sky Poultry Association hosts annual expo in Great Falls

Big Sky Poultry
Posted at 11:09 AM, Oct 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-02 13:09:00-04

The annual poultry show took place on Saturday at the Montana Expo Park. The Rocky Mountain Poultry Association (website) has been coming to the open poultry show for over 30 years.

Big Sky Poultry Association hosts annual expo in Great Falls

The open poultry shows are an opportunity for everyone in the AG community to come together and show off the hard work they have put in to carefully breeding, caring for and raising their birds.

Desiree Roth, president of the Rocky Mountain Poultry Association, said a big part of these shows is the friendship and community aspect, but also giving the 4H youth the educational opportunity to show their animals and learn from everyone else and the experience.

“We all compete to see who the best in show is, and what they’re doing is they’re trying to see who is the closest to that standard that they made a hundred and some years ago,” said Roth. “That’s what we’re competing so, it’s a lot of friendship it’s a lot of comradeship, and we just really enjoy showing our birds, more than just having eggs and meat production.”

“I like just meeting all the other people that are there and seeing what kinds of birds they have and what they do differently from me to kind of see which way ways can make it easier or better,” said Tristen Short, a member of the Montana 4H Club.

Roth said chickens are underrated in the AG community, partially because they have a much quicker turnaround than other animals.

“It takes only say 6 to 8 weeks to raise a meat bird versus, you know, a steer takes over a year to raise or and then, you know, a lot of our like pigs and lambs take months to raise up to use for quality product versus a chicken is such less time so you have a lot more coming out of what you're putting into it,” Roth said.

Additionally, there has been an outbreak of the Avian Influenza, which is a viral infection that affects poultry and wild birds. The virus can cause infections, diseases and decreased egg production. Roth talked with me about how people in the AG community are adapting and working around the outbreak.

“They, unfortunately, have cut down on a lot of the shows because of the fear of the Avian Influenza, so if they ever had an outbreak in certain areas [then] we can't have shows, and the ways they have adapted is just better biosecurity,” said Roth. “People have started covering their coops so the outdoor animals can't get in because things like sparrows and waterfowl, especially the migratory birds, that's what tend to bring it in. More protection for their showbirds, which tends to mean like covered runs and unfortunately, they can't necessarily go outside, but biosecurity is a big one. Even down to changing your clothes and your boots to go into your barn so you're not tracking in that virus.”

Coming up is the 150th annual Ohio show, which is a pretty big deal. Roth said some members of the Big Sky Poultry Association will be in attendance at the event.