TUMALO, OR -- Tumalo farmers say they’ve struggled to convince egg buyers that their products are safe, ever since the Oregon Department of Agriculture discovered avian influenza in a local flock over two weeks ago. Gary Dale raises about 600 chickens on his Tumalo farm, which is located near the center of the quarantine zone set up by the ODA. He tells KBND News his roadside egg business is suffering. "We’ve been doing it for years. It’s gotten to a point we go through 20 dozen eggs a day. And now, we haven’t sold any. It just dropped off to nothing. So, I’ve asked around, and other people in Tumalo, same thing has happened."
Dale says the decrease has occured over the past two weeks, despite a federal inspector's reassurances that his chickens are fine. "I was just told by the head scientist at the USDA that they are checking chickens. You should be concerned if your chicken’s head is drooping, their comb turns black and they usually die within 48 hours. None of that has ever happened." According to the ODA, birds and poultry products cannot be brought into or out of the 10-kilometer quarantine zone, to protect other birds from potentially being infected. However, there is no evidence bird flu can spread to humans, and the county health department says poultry products are safe to eat, if properly cooked.
Dale is now in the process of getting a permit that will allow his eggs to cross the quarantine boundary, but officials recognize that doesn't make up for lost business. The ODA encourage bird owners with questions or concerns to contact the department at 1-800-347-7028. If the area continues to avoid any new bird flu detections, the quarantine would be lifted in about 2 weeks.