155,634 birds culled in Pampanga
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Aided by Philippine Army soldiers, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has destroyed 155,634 chickens, ducks and quails which were sick or exposed to the H5 strain of the avian flu inside a one-kilometer quarantine zone at San Luis town in Pampanga province as of Sunday.
The process, undertaken to prevent the spread of bird flu, could be winding up on Monday with the culling of birds in backyard farms.
The BAI was able to cull more than the government’s original target of 131,500 fowls, after Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol confirmed the bird flu outbreak on Aug. 11.
As many as 129,000 culled chickens came from five farms in the villages of San Carlos and Sta. Rita, said Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, coordinator of BAI’s avian influenza control program.
In the 7-km control zone ringing the quarantine zone, 36 teams deployed by the Pampanga provincial government have culled 34,565 ducks, 16,347 quails, 28,264 egg-laying chickens and 33,939 broilers or chickens grown for meat.
These birds were not sick, but their owners volunteered to have them culled as a precaution, according to Angeline Blanco, action officer of the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
Several poultry owners said they had signed inventory forms of the Department of Agriculture, which assured them that the agency had started processing their compensation for the loss of the birds.
In an Aug. 15 open forum, Piñol said P16 million was available to compensate poultry farmers inside the 1-km quarantine area, and P58.2 million has been readied for farmers in the 7-km control zone.
Sese Farms, one of the largest farms in San Carlos village, said it would cull its own pullets (young chickens).
Today, Vytiaco said BAI teams were scheduled to cull birds in backyard farms within the control zone.
On Friday in Minalin town, residents of four villages enjoyed a chicken bonanza when poultry owner Ambet Magpayo gave away 1,000 healthy but unsold chickens. Mayor Edgar Flores said Magpayo decided to distribute his stocks instead of spending money on feeds.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, duck growers in Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija gathered to discuss the drastic sales drop and how their businesses could survive the outbreak, said Candaba Mayor Danilo Baylon, who is engaged in poultry and feeds.
In Nueva Ecija, the poultry businesses outside a quarantine and restriction zone in San Isidro town have been affected by the exposure of an egg farm in Barangay San Roque.
More than 100 soldiers were sent on Saturday to the towns of Jaen and San Isidro after two cases of avian flu were detected in quails, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said in a statement.
Nato said the deployment in Nueva Ecija followed a request from the Bureau of Animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture for assistance “after confirming a new incident of bird flu outbreak.”
He said troops were now undergoing training on how to do their jobs.
As many as 70,000 chickens at a farm owned by Manuel Ortiz-Luis were scheduled for culling on Sunday.
Zaldy Juatco, a poultry farmer from San Leonardo town, approached reporters to relay his offer to donate his unsold chicken to displaced families from Marawi City. He has been taking care of over 22,000 chickens.
Juatco said he was willing to donate his fowls in exchange for government assistance. —With reports from Armand Galang and the wires
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