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Surrey councillor’s turkey farm loses 18K birds to avian flu

Mike Bose described it as ‘life going to hell’
First-term Surrey city councillor Mike Bose on his family’s turkey farm, on 156 Street. “There are very few turkey farms left in Surrey now, we’re talking about four,” Bose said on Nov. 2, 2022. “This is one of the largest now. Total, there’s 9,400 in one and over there, 9,000 birds, right now. The big birds go to market tonight.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Mike Bose’s Medomist turkey farm has been smote by avian flu, with roughly 18,000 birds dead by the Surrey city councillor’s estimate.

Signs of infection began to show on Nov. 16, the farm sent samples to the government the following morning, they were declared positive for the flu and then all the protocols and restrictions – “life going to hell,” as Bose puts it, began.

He had two flocks, with one of them a week from market. “They came in on the Monday to euthanize the birds,” he recalled. “On the Monday when they showed up there was 100 per cent mortality, and then they had to euthanize the three-week old flock in the same building, just the opposite end, and then you go through the process.”

That involved composting, washing the barn inside and out floor to ceiling, disinfecting all the equipment and waterlines inside and out.

The farm passed its final disinfection inspection two weeks ago, Bose said. “We lost just shy of 18,000 (birds).”

Half of them died and half had to be destroyed.

Bose is part owner and manager of the farm, at 5948 156 Street.

His next flock is coming on Feb. 21, having cleared its 14-day vacancy on Feb. 7 and being released from all obligations to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency “and back to farming as normal.

“But it’s been three months of hell,” Bose said.

As far as as he knows, his is the only turkey farm in Surrey to be hit with the flu. “We’ve just finished 60 years of raising turkeys and that is the first major outbreak of anything we’ve ever had. We’ve had other minor and illnesses that we could solve very easy on our own. This is the very first time, and it’s the first time it’s actually affected anyone in Surrey. We’ve never even been in a protect zone before, we’ve always been the anomaly.”

Bose said that on Nov. 10, about a week before the farm was infected, a windstorm knocked the power out and the drainage pumps weren’t running. With heavy rain, water pooled in the fields “which quickly filled up with wild birds, ducks and geese, and that wind was blowing through the barn.

“Wind blowing across wild birds into a barn, not a good combination.”

The financial hit, he said, is “huge. It’s got a lot of zeroes in it, a lot of zeroes.”

There is government compensation and insurance to help with that, but these take time to apply for and collect. “It’s a very painful process.

“The one thing I have said through the process, and everybody has a lot of negative things to say about the federal government and agencies, and especially the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. For me, CFI have been absolutely amazing and at the darkest moments, it was my case officer that helped me get through it and get through all the things we had to do and get accomplished so to me that was very, very important. They were extremely helpful.”

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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