Bird Flu + Backyard Flocks | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Bird Flu + Backyard Flocks

I was quite literally arranging to bring a new hen into our flock when the news broke: Bird flu. For me, bringing in a new hen will have to wait.

When it comes to breakfast, there's nothing quite like a fresh egg or two, plucked that morning from the coop of your very own backyard flock. Deep orange in color, loaded with nutrients and the love you poured into the "ladies" who made them... it's a beautiful thing. So when bird flu comes around, it's natural that a backyard chicken (or other poultry)-keeper might feel like they're in over their heads.

Bird Flu + Backyard Flocks
Courtesy Nicole Vulcan

On July 12, the Oregon Department of Agriculture issued a regional quarantine for the city of Bend and surrounding areas, after finding five cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a non-commercial flock in Deschutes County. The 70-some birds living on the farm have since been euthanized.

During the quarantine, ODA conducts "surveillance"—in the form of a voluntary survey—that allows it to track cases. If more cases are uncovered, ODA conducts another survey 14 days later until no cases are found. The survey is available from this Oregon State University-Deschutes County Extension Service web page:

  • To help keep backyard and other chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys healthy, ODA recommends the following precautions:
  • Restrict access to your property and keep your birds away from other birds.
  • Keep a designated pair of shoes to wear around your birds, wash clothing after visiting your birds and use disinfectants correctly.
  • Clean and disinfect cages, poultry equipment and car tires after visiting a farm store, poultry swap, or other location with birds present.
  • Keep new birds separate from your flock for 30 days; quarantine returning birds from the rest of your flock after visiting a poultry swap or other event.
  • Do not share equipment or supplies with others, but if you must, disinfect it first.
  • Wash hands before and after bird handling.

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. You can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis.
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