Govt. to Clamp Down on Backyard Chicken Slaughtering

BOTSWANA - Hundreds of poultry slaughterhouses could soon be declared illegal as their operators appear reluctant to apply for temporary licences.
calendar icon 15 September 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Under the Livestock and Meat Industries Act of 2006, that has been put in abeyance for the time being, poultry farmers are required to observe certain standards and abandon the traditional backyard slaughtering.

But the Superintendent of Abattoirs in the Department for Veterinary Services, Smuts Masalila, says only 13 poultry companies have submitted applications for temporary licences since the law was enacted last year.

According to the Chairman of the Botswana Poultry Producers Association, Dave Gilbert, Botswana had 1,000 registered poultry farms in 1995 and that although the number has dropped to less than 200 today, he was expecting a significant number of the farms to have applied for temporary licences by now.

"Maybe they need a lot of education or awareness about the new Act," Gilbert says. "Maybe they think they will get away with it. But the other problem could be that most of them are out of business due to rising operational costs. Prices of maize, and fuel have been going up in the last year. I will take it up with the Committee so something may be done about it."

Gilbert estimates that every week, half a million chicks are sold to various poultry farms, with 300,000 of them going to big producers such as Tswana Pride, Richmark and Goodwill Chickens. Gilbert believes the big producers are among those who have who have applied for licences.

Mmegi Online reports that since the government started funding small businesses, through various programmes, more than 10 years ago, poultry farms have mushroomed in almost every village in Botswana.

But that was before there was a law regulating the setting up of slaughterhouses and specifying standards. As a result of that laissez-faire attitude that prevailed in the past, many poultry farmers would simply slaughter their fowls in the backyard and sell to the community and shops.

However, Masalila, whose department now has the responsibility of enforcing hygiene and standards at abattoirs, says they will have to close down slaughterhouses that flout the law. "We did not close them down because it would have caused chaos," he says. "It would have meant no meat in Botswana. We also advised them to improve on all the deficiencies and bring the abattoirs up to standards stipulated in the law. That's where we are right now."

The new Act categorizes poultry slaughterhouses into five classes, namely, D2 (240 birds a day), D1 (241 to 500 birds a day), C (501 to 4,000), B (4001 to 10,000), and A (over 10,000 birds).

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