Home Agribusiness Avian Influenza hits another Astral farm

Avian Influenza hits another Astral farm


Following a first outbreak of Avian Influenza on an Astral farm in June 2017, and outbreaks confirmed on two further unrelated farms in July 2017, it has now been announced that yet another Astral farm has been hit by an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8.

Despite extreme measures taken to reduce the risk of any further infections on more Astral farms, an outbreak of H5N8 was isolated and confirmed on 1 August 2017 on an Astral poultry breeding facility known as Welbedacht, situated on the banks of the Grootdraai dam just outside Standerton in Mpumalanga. This new outbreak is completely unrelated to the first outbreak on an Astral farm near Villiers.

The Welbedacht farm is similar in size to the Villiers farm, and contains 48 poultry sheds. At this juncture the impact has been limited to only one poultry shed on the farm, and this outbreak is being managed with extreme care and diligence on the back of experience gained with the first outbreak at Villiers. The spread of the infection to all poultry sheds on the Villiers farm was successfully prevented and, although that farm remains under quarantine, no further sign of the disease has been detected among the remaining poultry stock on the farm.


Impact on supply

In the short term, this second outbreak of H5N8 will not have any impact on broiler supply to Astral’s poultry processing plants or the supply of chicken to the market. All efforts are being taken to curb the outbreak and limit its impact on this farm, and any further consequences depend solely on whether the infection will spread to other houses on the farm. All stakeholders are reminded that this infection has impacted breeding stock and not broiler birds destined for meat production.


It now appears that H5N8 is endemic to Mpumalanga and Gauteng, as the virus persists regionally in commercial poultry, wild birds and backyard chickens as evidenced by its confirmed presence across these provinces. Astral is actively engaging with the government to regulate the use of vaccination programmes against the virus. Globally, commercial vaccines have been developed for use in preventative vaccination programmes against HPAI, and these vaccines have successfully been applied in a number of countries around the world such as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam, to name a few.

The protection of high value breeding stock in South Africa is imperative in order to prevent large scale financial losses in the local poultry industry, to ensure food security and to curb job losses as a result of production capacity losses in this industry.”