SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa’s largest egg producer, Quantum Foods has reduced the population of chicken by 420,000 at one of its farms in the Western Cape due to an outbreak of avian influenza warning on egg production reduction.

Quantum said the outbreak affected the Lemoenkloof layer farm and the nearby farms, along with a direct cost of R34 million, which would prompt additional costs in terms of supplying the province with eggs.

In February, the company warned on an expected loss in its half-year to end-March, with its headline earnings per share to fall as much as 87%.

“The company’s profit fall for its half-year to the end of March won’t be as bad as previously feared in the region due to the accelerating demand,” it noted.

According to the company’s report, a close competitor to it, which produces the Nulaid brand nationally was also affected.

The latest outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was first detected at the Lemoenkloof layer farm near Malmesbury in the second half of April.

Quantum also suffered an avian influenza outbreak in 2022 that only affected Lemoenkloof, unlike previous outbreaks in 2017, 2018, and 2021 that affected the region.

The company added that Lemoenkloof farm supplies about 13% of Quantum’s eggs, and the company started repopulating the farm in July 2022 after culling 400 000 hens.

Recently, the country’s provincial veterinary service reported that the avian influenza outbreak killed around 120,000 birds at two Western Cape poultry farms.

“Highly pathogenicity avian influenza outbreaks have been occurring worldwide and were detected in poultry in other South African provinces earlier in 2023 and throughout 2022. However, the Western Cape has not seen the virus in commercial poultry since early last year,” the report stated.

In 2021, 0ver 130,000 poultry were culled due to the bird flu outbreak in the same region as reported by the SA’s provincial veterinary service.

At the beginning of last year, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) were reported on farms in Niger and Nigeria, and two different virus variants were reported in South African poultry.

The veterinary service reported that avian outbreaks have been occurring worldwide and detected in poultry in other South African provinces earlier in 2023 and throughout 2022.

It added that there have been no reports of animal-to-human transmission of the virus in South Africa posing a low risk to human health.

However, veterinary authorities cautioned that biosecurity measures must be enforced, as humans can transmit the virus from sick birds to other birds on their shoes, hands or clothes.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.