Director Roy Abaya of the Department of Agriculture in Region III said at least 200,000 quails are objects of culling in Barangay Imbunia in Jaen and 70,000 laying chicken in a poultry farm in Barangay San Roque in San Isidro.
The culling operation in those two Nueva Ecija towns started Saturday afternoon, or two days after the bird flu virus was confirmed to have affected the feathered animals in the two villages.
Abaya, who motored to San Isidro town Friday afternoon to preside on the meeting of chicken, quail and other feathered animal owners, and on Saturday during the culling operation, said he found it to be a different scenario about the bird flu cases in the province than that in San Luis, Pampanga, the ground zero of the feathered animal virus in the country.
He said he was greeted with a report that thousands of quails were threatened by the spread of the virus in one village. It turned out that many villagers in Barangay Imbunia are engaged in backyard raising of laying quails.
Abaya said that outside of the quails and the chicken flock in the poultry farm in San Isidro, an undetermined number of ducks, native chickens, fighting cocks, pigeons, and other feathered animals “would be captured, killed and dumped in pits” in the culling operation within a kilometer radius in San Roque and Imbunia.
About 50 Army soldiers, to be assisted by the farm owner and his workers as well as the quail backyard raisers, have been engaged in the killing of the fathered animals.
A task force, composed of officials from the agriculture, health, police, local government units have also been activated to help contain the problem in San Isidro and Jaen towns.
“We have also established checkpoints to prevent the going out of the feathered animals and eggs in the two barangays. Necessary measures were also established to contain the animals within the seven kilometer radius outside of the two afflicted barangays,” Abaya said.
Abaya said the number of the feathered animals to be slaughtered would be properly documented and their owners to be given financial assistance.
“The owners of chickens and ducks would be given monetary assistance of P80 pesos per chicken killed, P10 per egg and P10 for each of the quails,” he said.
The DA regional director said that he and his team also motored to other towns in Nueva Ecija where they received information that some feathered animals had also died.
“The good news is that no other towns and cities had confirmed cases of bird flu affliction among their feathered animals,” Abaya said. “Nevertheless, we had made an appeal to all concerned officials in the different towns and cities of Nueva Ecija to help us monitor the situation in their respective areas. We are ready to give them the necessary assistance whenever needed,” he added.
Felicito Espiritu Jr., information officer of DA Region III, said the extermination of the subject animals in San Isidro and Jaen towns would be similar to those done in San Luis, Pampanga where the cases of the bird flu-affliction were first detected.
“It’s either strangulation by hand or placing the animals in a sack and then gassing them with carbon dioxide,” he said. “Then they would all be disposed of in dugout pits and covered by soil,” Espiritu said.
As news about the onslaught of bird fl u in San Luis, Pampanga and in the two towns of Nueva Ecija hogged the headlines, regular partakers of roasted chicken being sold in various places in the province had become lesser in number. The thinning number of customers, it was learned, was because of the scare about the bird fl u virus.
“We use to sell 40 roasted chicken a day,” said one of the owners of “Litsunang Manok” stall in this city said. “Now it was down to only to about one half of that number,” he added.
She lamented the “scared” customers were not totally convinced with the assurance of health officials that the virus would not affect humans.
“Kahit nakikita nilang lutung-luto sa pag-iihaw ang manok, takot pa rin silang kainin ito,” the stall owner said.
Among fast food chains dealing with fried chicken, though, no lessening of customers was noted.
“Sigurado kasing nagdaraan sa quality control ang mga manok na niluluto nila,” said one customer who is a fanatic in partaking fried chicken in her favorite food chain.