South Africa poultry sector braces for impact as avian influenza cases rise

The country is considering vaccination
calendar icon 19 October 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

South Africa's poultry sector has noted that they intend to import 21.5 million fertilised eggs to rebuild its domestic flock after losing a substantial number of birds to avian influenza. While this number far exceeds current culling, it indicates fears of continued escalation, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

The South African government has taken containment measures to limit the spread of the disease and is considering the possibility of vaccination against the latest strain of avian influenza at some farms with the highest levels of bio security. 

On October 2, 2023, DALRRD released a media statement indicating that the “Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development briefed the retailers about the containment measures that have been taken to limit the spread of the disease as well as possible solutions to manage such outbreaks in the short and the medium-term including vaccination.” 

SAPA leadership has predicted that vaccination will begin between November and March. Although no formal announcements have been made regarding the proposed policy or implementation plan for vaccination, industry has discussed plans to vaccinate all birds under 20 weeks in the first phase.

In addition to the poultry and egg sector, the grain and feed industry in South Africa is bracing for SAPA has predicted a 600,000 ton reduction in maize usage in the next six months due to reduced bird populations, a number expected to increase if the disease remains on its current trajectory. 

USDA contacts in South Africa have suggested that the depressed feed demand is likely to temporarily lower feed prices. Demand for pork is expected to increase as South Africans seek alternative protein sources amid the poultry short.

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