Bleak year ahead for ostrich producers
The South African ostrich industry was continuing to suffer the impact of the ban on fresh meat exports to the EU, which had, for the past year, also been expanded to heat-treated meat. This was the result of avian influenza outbreaks in South Africa, as well as the country not being able to comply with stringent residue monitoring standards set by the EU, according to Francois de Wet, managing director of Mosstrich.
While sales in the domestic market had been growing steadily over the past few years, the market was limited and generated much lower income than the export market. “The ban on heat-treated and fresh meat had resulted in the contribution of meat to ostrich income declining from 60% to 25%,” he said.
Improved leather and feather prices due to reduced supply levels had somewhat helped to relieve the impact of lower earnings from meat, De Wet said. However, the demand for leather was highly cyclical and largely dependent on the latest fashion trends.
“Market opportunities are fairly limited, but farmers could improve their income from feathers by using an effective parasite management programme,” he said.
Martin Gildenhuys, who farms near Heidelberg in the Western Cape, said the closure of the market for heat-treated meat had resulted in the majority of ostrich farmers now operating in survival mode. “Ostriches fit well into my production system, but at current prices, production does not justify the risks. We need better protection and support from government to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.” – Glenneis Kriel