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In this edition: Poultry poop and dumping, same same, but different…

It appears that a South African company has an even more ingenious way of providing a protein rich ingredient to the poultry industry than scouring the beach for starfish. AgriProtein, that produces animal feed from flies, has secured a large investment from its global partners, making it the most valuable fly farming business in the world. Theirs is an excellent business model as the black soldier flies feed on organic waste that would typically end up on our saturated landfill sites. AgriProtein farm 8.5 billion flies that recycle 250 tonnes of waste a day to produce 50 tonnes of larvae.

While on the topic of sustainability, the US’s seventh largest poultry producer, in the state of Maryland, has been forced to look for alternative ways to dispose of their poultry manure. With approximately 500 broiler farms located in the state, there is more than enough poultry manure to go around! The standard practice was to spread it on the land, however concern has been raised over the impact this is having on the water sources in the area due to the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the chicken waste, thus Maryland is imposing a law restricting this practice over the next five years. The poultry producer has thus looked to Irish based company, BHSL (Biomass Heating Solutions Limited) which is owned by poultry farmers that found themselves in a similar predicament. Although the cost of setting up such a plant is great, the saving on fossil fuels and increased production efficiency through heat saving has created a triple bottom line for farms, according to one of the owners of BHSL. Additionally, green subsidies are awarded, and power generated can be sold back into the electricity grid. Furthermore the by-product can be sold as fertiliser. Although we do have companies in SA offering the same services, perhaps with differing technology, until it is prescribed by government, I don’t see this form of power generation being used very widely.

Following on from commitments made by numerous McDonald’s fast food restaurant chains to use only cage-free eggs by 2025, all major retail chains in the UK have now made the same commitment. The term “cage-free” has not been fully defined as yet, but the general consensus is that a barn style system will be adopted as the alternative. Given the recent announcement by McDonald’s SA, can we expect to see a similar movement amongst our retailers here in SA? Our market requirements are very different to those who have already made the commitment (the US and Europe, and Australia to a lesser extent), so I can’t see the same echoed here; perhaps only in the retailers whose majority of spenders are from a higher earning bracket.

It is rather concerning that avian influenza has reared its ugly head again and in quite a big way! On 25 December the city of Suzhou in China brought all trading of live poultry to a standstill after neighbouring provinces reported cases of human bird flu infections. 26 December saw South Korea armed forces deployed to assist in the country’s largest poultry cull to-date, and a case of the H5N8 virus was found in the Evros river delta in Greece. On 27 December Germany culled approximately 55 000 birds after diagnosis was made on farms in the state of Lower Saxony; and the culling of more than 2 500 chickens and other poultry was ordered after four crows and three wild birds found dead were tested positive in the state of Odisha in India. On the 5th of January France started a mass culling of ducks in an area south west of France.

At a time when one must feel helpless against the unrelenting AI virus, a research team from the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in the US have some welcoming research results. They set out to try and explain how the virus was entering closed environment houses. They believe that treating non-pelleted diets with a disinfectant could assist in controlling the spread of the disease. Although significance of transmission of the virus through feed has not been proven, they believe it is a sound argument and found that different disinfectants did reduce, or eliminate, the virus level in the mash feed.

A bit closer to home, we just wanted to reiterate the importance of backing up your backups on an external hard drive. We have sadly had two clients that have suffered a great loss of data after one had their main computer struck by lightning, while another was affected by a virus that has rendered all information on their server useless. Sadly it is not good enough to only do a backup, these backups must be transferred onto another form of media. Five minutes could save you five days!

Finally, because we all need a good laugh! An article published by the Daily Dispatch entitled “Plan to help poultry industry” shows a picture of Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Bheki Cele, and Gauteng’s MEC for agriculture and rural development, Lebogang Maile, clad in overalls standing next to a row of hens in battery cages. The caption explains that they have visited a chicken farm as government is concerned at the growing crisis in chicken farming caused by cheap imports. I hope that the owner of the farm expressed gratitude for their visit, but gave them directions to the nearest broiler farm….

 

References:

Farmers Weekly-Dec’16

Poultry Focus Africa-Aug’16

New Age-Jan’17

 

 

 

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