While government device means to minimise the spread of Avian Influenza popularly known as Bird Flu, South Africa’s Poultry Association (SAPA) plans to euthanise half a million poultry birds.
This, according to SAPA, is necessary following the high spread of birds pathogenic H5N8 virus which is spread by wild ducks.
The birds that would be killed will include layers and broiler chickens in two farms in Mpumalanga by a variety of methods, including gas. This marks the second time a large number of chickens will be killed since 1960 though the first incidence was due to the spread of different diseases.
While this will affect just 1% of the country’s egg supply, “it would be imprudent” not to take it seriously and immediately initiate culling to stop the disease from spreading, said SAPA director Kevin Lovell.
“It is for us a major thing because we don’t normally cull that many birds on a farm. It is worrying. What we will be losing is 1% of the country’s eggs and that is not a massive impact … yet,” he said.
This comes at the time the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana is expected to indicate government’s plan to deal with the outbreak since it was first discovered in Zimbabwe’s leading egg and poultry supplier Irvine’s, resulting in the death of over 7 000 of its birds while 140 000 were being euthanised as a preventive measure.
We could recall that this week, SAPA recorded that South Africa’s largest chicken supplier, Astral Foods has been affected by the viral disease, Bird Flu, but the second, which Lovell refused to divulge its name – but pointed out that it is a commercial layer farm producing eggs for consumption- will equally be affected as its birds would be equally euthanised.
“A limited number are infected, but birds on the farms will have to be euthanised. Those who are sick must be euthanised much more quickly. It’s a viral disease – you can’t cure it.”
Euthanasia methods to be used would be determined by the kind of bird, how they live (on the floor or in cages), and the type of site they are on.
Botswana Bans Poultry Importation From South Africa
Botswana has banned, with immediate effect, the importation of poultry meat, processed products and feeds from South Africa.
The country’s Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia made the announcement on Wednesday saying the ban was a precautionary measure to prevent the importation of the disease into the country where the industry is near self-sufficiency.
“Although the local industry’s production is close to meeting the demand, we still have importation of feeds, day-old chicks as well as some retailers that say they want to import special cuts that are not available here. We are also aware that there is some smuggling of chickens and related products taking place so we are appealing to traders to respect the ban. We will be monitoring the situation and take appropriate action when the situation improves in South Africa,” he said.
Botswana demands for poultry meat and products stands at around 70,000 metric tonnes per annum but only five percent is imported.
This might lead to shortages of some of the products locally as there is a huge appetite for traders to import chicken and related products from South Africa due to the significant price differential between chicken imports and the locally produced poultry.