Bird flu cause serious economic damage in SA’s Western Cape

Poultry farmers’ production loss due to the outbreak of H5N8 poultry virus in the Western Cape in South Africa amounts to more than R800 million.

More than two million chickens were culled and eggs had to be destroyed to try and stop the virus from spreading.

There were 36 outbreaks in the province and 70 ostrich farms were placed under quarantine. The latest outbreak of the virus was at World of Birds in Houtbaai, where a chicken tested positive for the virus. The park is home to roughly 2 500 birds.

Alan Winde, MEC of agriculture in the Western Cape, said the province was hardest hit by the disease.

“The outbreak also affected the Paardeberg area, which has the highest concentration of chicken farms.”

Six South African provinces, including Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West were affected.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is meetings with industry about the poultry crisis and to try to prevent further spreading of the virus. They have also already discussed the possibility of vaccination.


The agricultural industry in the Western Cape started calculating the possible economic damage caused by the outbreak to paint a provisional picture. A conservative calculation places the estimated cost for the loss of chickens and eggs at roughly R800 million. Labour and material for the production of compost have not yet been added.

Louw Pienaar, senior agriculture economist at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, said the general economic impact will be much greater – many farms will lose income in the long-term due to quarantine limitations.

After much anticipation, there will be an increase in the production price of eggs over the short-term. The price increase is estimated at R20 more per dozen. The 900 000 households in the province that rely on basic protein will be affected the most.

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