Positive cases of the highly pathogenic strain of avian flu-HPAI H7 have been detected across five poultry farming projects in Limpopo. The Provincial Department of Agriculture says cases are so far only restricted to the Waterberg region.
Meanwhile, some small-scale poultry farmers are worried over possible financial losses due to interruptions in the supply chain within the poultry industry.
Emerging poultry business owner Patricia Mantsho has been in the chicken breeding business since 2021. The businesswoman is one of many in the poultry industry that is now being battered as a result of two strains of Avian Influenza that hit the country in recent weeks. The emerging farmer had not anticipated a disease of the magnitude of Avian Flu when she opted to venture into poultry farming.
“We didn’t know that we would be hit by the Avian Flu like this, we had been running and everything has been smooth so just all of a sudden then we are hit by the Avian Flu. You find that from the suppliers they are badly affected and we are worried about the supply,” says Mantsho.
Mantsho’s business has been interrupted as her supplier has culled chicks.
“When you look at it, it is something that has affected us countrywide because you have one supplier and all of a sudden you start looking for other suppliers that can assist,” Mantsho added.
“The picture in the province is that we have five farms’ poultry farms which have tested positive for H7 in the province, all farms are in the Waterberg district, three in Bela Bela municipality, one in Modimolle and one in Mogalakwena, the common symptom is chicken dying, normally chicken die but the mortalities will be a bit high,” says Dr Moses Mabunda, Limpopo Director of Veterinary Services at the Department of Agriculture.
Poultry producers have also been encouraged to apply strict measures when buying products from farms. In the meantime, farmers can report any suspected cases to relevant authorities.
“This is the first time we have Avian Flu in such a big scale in the province. If you are a poultry farmer when you see your birds getting sick immediately report to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and we will send our technicians and state vets to come and investigate and take samples,” says Mabunda.
About two million chickens have been culled to curb the spread of Avian Flu, prompting fears of shortage of chicken products as well as escalating prices.