South African layer industry hard hit by avian influenza

The country currently has a shortage of eggs
calendar icon 16 October 2023
clock icon 1 minute read

South Africa has reported outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in seven of the nine provinces in the country, according to a recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

The Western Cape and Gauteng province are the hardest hit. The current strains appear highly virulent, and industry sources indicated that there are currently daily reports of new infections. 

According to the last official report of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, 2.68 million chickens were lost as a result of the recent H5 and H5 HPAI outbreak. However, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), has offered a much higher estimate, stating that 7.5 million birds have been culled since the outbreak of the HPAI which began in April 2023. This includes 2.5 million birds bred for their meat and 5 million birds for the egg laying hens and 280,000 in breeding flocks.

The layer industry is the most affected with 64 facilities of breeding stock for egg layers affected by the outbreak. The industry has indicated that the culled bird population represents about 20-30% of South Africa's total layer stock. Supermarkets in some parts of the country are already reporting shortages and many consumers have been unable to procure this staple.

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