avian flu

30% of the egg laying hens in the Western Cape are dead – our avian flu crisis.

First some facts and then some musings on why this is happening.

30% of the egg laying hens in the Western Cape are dead. Almost all of them are laying eggs for sale as eating eggs. There is one broiler breeder farm (80,000 hens), which lays the eggs that become the broiler chicks.

There are a total of 15 commercial poultry operations countrywide that have had this attack of the H5N8 virus. Attack because if the disease does not kill all your birds, which is does in most cases, then the state veterinary rules mandate that all birds on the property must be culled.

In the Western Cape 4 laying hen operations (1 “free range” and 4 caged) have had all their hens culled. 1 broiler breeder and 1 duck farm.

We had a vet on the farm on Thursday and she culled a representative sample and fortunately we are clean. For now.

There is no proof anywhere in the world that this form of the virus affects human beings.

The outbreak started in June this year. This was upcountry. It has now spread countrywide.

It is windborne.

Our national Department of Agriculture (DAFF) announced on Friday that they will allow vaccination against this disease as it has now become an endemic disease like others such as Newcastle disease.

However it is going to be minimum of 3 months (considering the attitude of DAFF towards agriculture more like 6 months) before the vaccine gives any immunity to any birds. The vaccine needs to be approved, get to the hens, can only be given in the oil format and then takes 4 weeks before the hens are immune.

There is another way to immunise and that is on day 1 but then there are competitive exclusion issues with Marek’s disease

The biggest lie in agriculture, perpetrated by the national retailers and the poultry industry, is so called free range eggs and meat chickens. These birds are barn raised and since the outbreak have not been allowed outside their barns. It is impossible to claim that they are free range.

If our industry is to survive this avian flu drama then it is only a matter of time before a more severe disease outbreak will occur as the pressure on the poultry industry keeps increasing as this is the nature of extractive capitalism. Capitalism that results from economics having become a mathematical science instead of a historically grounded social science. When everything is reduced and compartmentalised (our education system) instead of being understood wholistically, we end up with cheap food at a high cost.

Because the egg industry is abused by the national retailers they put 96% of laying hens in cages, keep breeding them to produce more on less, ensure that their supposedly cheap diet contains the micronutrient chelator Glyphosate all of which results in weaker birds over time. If true cost accounting was practiced then we would not be in this downward spiral. True cost accounting is alien to our reductionist educational and economic system.

You have the power to change this destructive process by buying your food from regenerative farmers. We are all farmers by proxy.

Angus

17 September 2017

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