B.C. farmer 'excited' to restart small chicken farm after losing entire flock to avian flu
Peggy Ife says she lost more than 100 birds, mostly chicks, in late April
Peggy Ife, a farmer in southeastern B.C., is preparing to pick up a small batch of chickens this week after losing her entire flock to avian flu in late April.
Ife's birds were the third flock in B.C. to test positive for the highly infectious H5N1 virus in April. Investigators with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the virus and euthanized more than 100 birds, mostly chicks, on her farm near Burton.
"It was a really, really hard awakening that kicked you right in a bad spot," Ife told Radio West host Sarah Penton on Monday.
"I made it through ... and I'm picking up new birds on Friday, so I'm excited."
B.C. confirmed its first case of avian flu on a farm in the North Okanagan on April 18, followed by an outbreak in a small backyard flock in Kelowna nearly two weeks later.
As of last Thursday, the province estimates more than 150,000 birds have been euthanized and a total of 18 farms have been infected.
The most recent outbreak was confirmed on June 18 in Langley, according to CFIA's website.
In an effort to prevent transmission, B.C. ordered all commercial poultry operators with more than 100 birds to move their flocks indoors until the spring migration ended in May and advised people to stop filling their feeders and bird baths to reduce contact between domestic animals and wild birds.
Ife, who refers to her chickens as "my girls," says she had been feeding wild birds for 17 years but after losing her flock to the virus she has decided to stop.
"[The feeders] are all put away ... and I will be letting [the chickens] free range again, but I will not be feeding any wild birds," she said.
She said finding new chickens at an affordable price has been a challenge as she waits for CFIA to compensate her for the birds that were put down.
"For $100, you might get five birds if you're lucky. I have no idea what [CFIA] will pay me or even when I'm going to get it, so I'm trying to replace my birds with what little out-of-pocket money I got," Ife said.
For now, Ife said she's excited to pick up a small handful of chickens on Friday and will start preparing to sell eggs again in the spring.
With files from Radio West