Experts call for calm in avian influenza outbreak on two farms
POULTRY experts yesterday called for calm in the industry following the ban on South African imports by neighbouring states, stating that the avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 outbreak had only been reported on two farms.
FNB senior agricultural economist Paul Makube said the two farms made up a very small portion of the poultry industry. He said the industry could only find reasons to worry if the outbreak escalated to other areas.
“The disease is confined to two farms, a layer and a breeder farm. So the outbreak has no potential to harm the poultry industry,” said Makube. “It will have a ripple effect on eggs and day-old chicks, but South Africa remains on high alert to ensure that it doesn’t spread.”
Today the government is expected to brief the country on measures taken in order to allay the fears. This week Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe imposed an indefinite ban on poultry products from South Africa, including hatching eggs, eggs, frozen chicken and mechanically deboned meat.
Sovereign Foods chief executive Chris Coombes said there was no indication of avian Influenza on any of its farms or operations.
“The health and wellbeing of our animals is our highest priority and Sovereign Foods’ standard operating procedure (SOP) ensures strict access control to and between our sites. In addition to the SOP we have stringent biological risk controls (BRC) in place to avoid and prevent exposure to disease. In order to minimise risk during this time, Sovereign Foods has suspended all site visits from external parties,” said Coombes.
Another poultry producer Astral Foods said one of its farms where the outbreak was reported in the Villiers district had quarantined and the specific site affected depopulated.
The company said it had established a 24/7 “war room” at its corporate office in Centurion last week, manned by its key operational executives, in order to effectively and efficiently manage the situation.
“Following on from the initial outbreak, abnormal mortality was reported on another site on the same farm. A decision was taken to depopulate all laying sites on this farm,” Astral said.
Luvuyo Tshisa from Phillippi sells chicken next to the Lansdown road in the Western Cape. Fears of avian influenza spreading affect the poultry industry.