Avian Influenza affected 813 000 breeding stock and backyard chickens in South Africa.
THE outbreak of the Avian Influenza in Zimbabwe and South Africa saw the regional countries incurring about $810 million losses in egg production, according to the Southern African Development Community Regional Vulnerability Analysis and Assessment Report.
The H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) continued to threaten the region’s poultry industry, with Zimbabwe and South Africa incurring heavy losses.
South Africa reported the disease had affected 813 000 breeding stock and backyard chickens; Zimbabwe reported the disease effecting 857 000 breeding stock on a single farm.
From the statistics provided by the SADC report, Zimbabwe was the hardest hit as the outbreak at Irvine’s owned Lanark farm had a huge impact on the country’s poultry sector, resulting in the shortage of breeding stock, day old chicks and eggs.
“Egg production losses in these three member states totalled $810 million, causing more than 3 000 job losses. No subsequent outbreaks have been reported,” the report, which also focuses on the region’s State of Food and Nutrition and Vulnerability, said.
According to the Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA), following the outbreak of Avian Influenza in May 2017, the national total stock of broiler breeders declined from 660 000 birds in April to 490 000 birds in June and declined further to 470 000 in December 2017.
Since then, an aggressive restocking of breeder birds by the poultry industry has occurred and pre-laying broiler breeder birds increased from 130 000 birds in September 2017 to 306 000 birds in March 2018. As a result, there is an upward increase in the total number of broiler breeder birds which rose to 574 000 birds in March 2018. However, this is still 13 percent lower than the stocks before the outbreak of AI.
Between January and March 2018, laying breeder stocks declined from 298 000 birds to 268 000 birds as spent breeder layers were not matched or surpassed by growing breeders coming into lay. Projections are that local production of hatching eggs will remain depressed until the last quarter of 2018, necessitating the continued high dependence on imported hatching eggs to satisfy demand for day-old chicks from local poultry farmers.
“This disease poses major risks to trade, food and nutrition security, as well as the livelihoods of many farmers. In 2017 outbreaks were confirmed in the DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe,” the report said.
In Zimbabwe, the total large-scale laying stock partially recovered from the AI-induced destocking low of 629,000 in August 2017 to 848 000 in March 2018 but was still 80 percent of pre-AI stock levels.
“Since the outbreak was on an individual farm, the company losses were not shared with the Association but we are happy that the country is free from the outbreak and we are concentrating on growing the sector,” ZPA chairman Solomon Zawe said.