The Poultry Disease Management Agency’s (PDMA) main focus is to protect the national flock through surveillance, monitoring and management of diseases which threaten the health of the flock and food security. This it does through coordinating and facilitating the implementation of poultry disease management strategies and plans, animal welfare policy, and practice guidance in collaboration with the government and other key stakeholders. Currently the agency is tasked with coordination of Avian Influenza surveillance information.
the maintenance of data integrity as well as ensuring that reliable
science-based information is available to decision makers quickly at the point
of need, the PDMA is exploring options for the development of a digital portal,
the Poultry Disease Monitor (PD Monitor).
portal will allow State Veterinarians and other permitted users of the system
to access reports on disease incidence and prevalence nationally. Although the
portal is being developed for Avian Influenza, its use will be extended to
other diseases. In providing specifications for the system, the PDMA requested
that the system be compatible with other relevant systems, to allow for
integrated “intelligent” reporting.
very excited with this development as it assists my office to maintain the
integrity of disease surveillance data, makes it easier for users to access the
information as well as plan related activities. I hope to pilot the system by
the end of the year.
development with Department of Poultry Diseases and CE@UP
development is an essential component of the PDMA strategy. Over the past few
years, the PDMA has, in collaboration with the Department of Poultry Diseases
and CE@UP, conducted a Poultry Disease Management Refresher Course for
course has targeted veterinarians in state service to ensure they are kept
abreast with developments in practices within in the discipline and poultry
industry. Three poultry disease
management courses were held during this year and a total of 18 veterinarians
have been trained. Due to interest expressed from state veterinarians a further
course is planned for the 23 October 2017.
have also been held with various provincial chief directors and directors who
have welcomed initiatives aimed at identifying poultry specialists who will act
as “hot seats” in each province to assist the industry on ALL Poultry related
queries, as well as extension of training to Animal Health Technicians and
Agricultural Extension Officers to support disease management initiatives.
The engagement between
PDMA and the government is working well. The PDMA in collaboration DAFF Veterinary
Public Health (VPH) ran a successful pilot study of egg sampling, residue and
microbial testing as a first step towards the development of a national residue
and monitoring programme for eggs. A total of 34 commercial and 5 small-scale
layer farms were included in this preliminary sampling around Gauteng.
Furthermore, there is an on-going
engagement between the PDMA and VPH in developing a national monitoring
programme for testing of residues and microbial in eggs. The next phase will be
to determine the basic guidelines on routine sampling of residues and microbial
agents, and based on the outcome of the results, an application to the rest of
the country will be made. Also, the VPH is considering the possibility of
inclusion of National Department of Health (DoH) to participate in the engagements
and facilitate One Health approach. Communication has been dispatched in this
respect and a response is awaited from the DoH. The long term objective of the
programme will be to enable export of products
irrespective of the production size and endorsement from DAFF following
standardized testing and monitoring programmes while benefiting human health at
the same time.
We are on track
to promote awareness on multi-agency collaborations, and interaction between
government, academia and the industry on the regulation and control of veterinary
antimicrobial agents and recommend best practices on the management of
antimicrobial use, stewardship and resistance.
Training of State Vet Poultry Experts
A total of 51
State Vets have gone through targeted in-service professional training since 2013
to date. Furthermore, 14-16 vets have been scheduled for training in 2016. The 2016
course will run for over a week each in January and February equal numbers of
state veterinarians (7-8) attending for each week. A follow-up contact session
for 2016 for all state vets who have gone through training is being considered
and will be implemented in due course.
Developing a searchable registered products database
on registered products is available on the PDMA website. There has been a great
progress on submission of package inserts from various companies since the notification sign was uploaded on the
landing page of PDMA website. However, to date, not all companies have
submitted their products’ inserts, but these are being followed up and these
will be added as they come in. The web address is available and open to the
public at: www.poultrydiseases.co.za.
Technical Support of Small-Scale and Backyard Farmers
The PDMA is
working on a proposed plan to visit the 9 provinces with state vets who have gone
through training and provide the much needed technical supports. This will be
the first step in creating an interface and added value relationships between
the state vets and farmers. This programme will ultimately achieve the goal of
bridging the gaps between the two important role players in view of public
health safety concerns of chickens sold in informal and sub-formal market. In addition,
the programme will aim to improve the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions
(KAP) on food safety of producers in this sector. An appeal will be made to the
provincial structures to assist in identifying the smallholder farms that
operate in this sector.
The PDMA updates
and informs the public regularly through the website, the Bulletin, postings on
important dates of training, poultry diseases and disease acts & protocols.
Information on the state vet’s telephone contacts are also made available and disease
study cases of the last contact session held in October 2013 and other
important information is posted on the website.
NAI Surveillance Monitoring Programme
A seminar on
risk analysis and surveillance was held in February 2015. Private and state
vets were invited to discuss the current status of disease surveillance and the
risk posed by transboundary animal diseases. It was concluded that there is a
need for an established and routine surveillance system to be in place. The
PDMA continues its attempts to establish a system for poultry disease reporting
that are diagnosed throughout the country. It should be understood that an active
and reliable poultry disease surveillance system is a priority to enable a
better understanding of the country’s disease situation and be able to do
proper monitoring and control. We have continued to approach industry’s role
players to provide us with previous and current confidential data on diagnosed
cases for purposes of planning. In the same vein, we are appealing to Directorate
of Animal Health (DAH) in DAFF to regulate this activity and make it compulsory
for all industry players, laboratories, farms, abattoirs and necessary partners
to report, and implement adequate measures of punishment to defaulters. This
will get the industry into compulsory reporting whatever the situation is on a
case by case basis.
Development of the Testing and Monitoring Programmes
Last year an
abattoir project was conducted at three high throughput abattoirs with the hope
of developing a testing and monitoring programme. The project has since stopped
with some suggestions that the revised programme should include the inclusion
of low throughput abattoirs and that certain body portions of retailed chickens
such as neck skin should be sampled. A modified protocol and SOP have been
developed and as soon as we receive approval, we will continue with the
project. Approximately, three high and low throughput abattoirs each will be
There has been a confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Gallinarum in pullets in the Western Cape Province. There were also three cases of Salmonella Enteritisdis confirmed during the egg project. A research and surveillance programme on Salmonella is in the pipeline to track it, because Salmonella species is considered to be frequent contaminants of chickens and have caused several foodborne outbreaks in humans. Discussions are still being held in this regard towards finalising the Salmonella movement control protocol with DAH-DAFF. We believed that this protocol will be treated with despatch and some sense of urgency.
It is only the beginning of 2015, and already at the Poultry Disease Management Agency, we have been hard at work following up on the projects from 2014 and starting new ones 2015. This is exciting for us since we will be able to provide you with the results from the work we initiated. Here follows an update on some of the projects.
Training of State Vets
The first group of 7 State Vets
has already completed their training at Onderstepoort. As usual, they found the
training to be beneficial and the feedback from them is that the knowledge will
assist them when dealing with their day-to-day poultry matters. Another group
of 7 will be going through training in February, taking the total number of
vets trained to 54. We are looking at a specific programme for the newly
employed state vets in the provinces. We would like to appeal to you to
feedback to us whether your experiences when dealing with the State Vets in
your areas have improved since we started with training. We also encourage you
to consult the PDMA website for the list of all State Vets who have gone
through the training programme, should you still encounter problems when
dealing with the State Vet in your areas.
Poultry Vets Contact
In order to ensure that the
trained State Vets continue to access more information on poultry, we organise
the contact sessions between private and state vets. These sessions are also
instrumental in getting the private and state vets to interact as colleagues,
thereby making their future dealings with each other much easier.
A workshop on Surveillance and
Risk Analysis is planned for 16 February 2015 to serve this purpose. The topics
for discussion will be surveillance, outbreak investigations, epidemiological
surveys, DAFF surveillance programmes, on-farm surveillance, and as
introduction to risk analysis. A total of 45 veterinarians have confirmed their
attendance. On the 17 February 2015 a
session will be held on new local development on Mycoplasma and also to
establish and antimicrobial resistance working group in light of the outcomes
of the Antimicrobial Resistance Summit that was hosted by the Department of
Health in October 2014. Future plans for these two groups will be communicated
in due course.
Microbial and Residue
Significant progress has been
made in this area. The testing of the broiler sampling protocol at 3 abattoirs
has been completed. The data is being analysed and will be instrumental in
drafting the minimum requirements for sampling of meat products of various
production facilities. The DAFF VPH will be adopting this sampling and testing
protocols for their own surveys. A study is planned for sampling of eggs at
both formal commercial and informal commercial sectors. This study will aid in
setting the national baseline for bacteria and antibiotics as well as the
antibiotic resistance in eggs. The baseline will be used to determine the
sampling protocol for eggs and the bacteria that need attention. This will
assist with the DAFF National Monitoring programme for eggs. The study will be
conducted in Gauteng to reduce the cost. The DAFF will be co-funding some of
the tests, particularly the residues and the antimicrobial resistance tests.
Disease Reporting and
This is an area of focus for the
PDMA for 2015. In light of the current Avian Influenza outbreaks on almost all
the continents, it is crucial for the industry to start taking disease
reporting and monitoring seriously. There is no doubt that an outbreak for
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza will be devastating to the industry. However,
what will be even more devastating are delays in the detection of the virus and
therefore the response to possible outbreak. The DAFF has placed a ban on
poultry imports from the following countries: Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom,
Canada and United States of America. The PDMA will be working with the
laboratories to start monitoring and mapping these diseases to be able to pick
up any spikes in disease incidences and also to be able to alert the producers
of possible risks in your areas. We really need your cooperation in this regard
if we are to act swiftly in the unfortunate event that an outbreak hits the
country. Not to be forgotten are the implications for exports, especially to
those companies that export even to neighbouring countries. If an outbreak
occurs in chickens, then the country can forget about any exports to other
continents for a long while.
The ostrich case should be a good
indicator of what the consequences are likely to be. We urge you please to be
vigilant and investigate any unexplained high mortalities on farm. Also
familiarise yourselves with your local State Vet office and how one would be
required to interact with them should an outbreak occur.
Research Chair in Risk
As reported previously, funding
has been secured to establish a Research Chair in SPS Risk Analysis. The DAFF
and NRF have agreed to fund the basic amount for the Chair. The industries will
be expected to provide funding for the ongoing projects to keep the chair going
and also to fund students who will be trained under the Chair to build the
national risk capabilities. It is a great opportunity for us as an industry to
carry out work that has already been envisaged but could not be done due to
high cost implication, such as work on imports, endemic diseases, zoonotic
diseases, to name but a few.
Beneficiary AI poultry disease discussion for State Vets
There are 16 known Influenza A virus hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes (H1-H16)
and nine neuraminidase (NA) subtypes (N1-N9).
Infection causes a wide spectrum of symptoms in birds, ranging from mild
illness to a highly contagious and rapidly fatal diseases resulting in epidemics.
The latter is known as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This form is
characterised by sudden onset, severe illness and rapid death with mortality
that can approach a 100%.
We the PDMA office, recently hosted a State Vets Poultry Mentorship follow
discussion on the 11th October 2013. Many by now are aware that, the
PDMA office hosts poultry diseases mentorship programmes training for state
vets who are working and involved in poultry projects in their respective
Therefore, the focus of the discussion was the AI disease affecting the
industry and state vets involved. A special thanks to our guest presenters/
speakers From GDARD (Dr. Deryn Petty), Avimune Company and Deltamune
The case studies focused AI affecting a poultry breeder farm in South
How vets see or find AI in a period where is suspected.
What are the things they need to do, once it has been detected?
What need to be done first regarding any time-frame? e.g. considering the
shedding period/expiring period.
What are other means of way to prevent diseases except for vaccination?
SAPA PMDA had realised the importance of private and state vets (agriculture
departments representatives) sharing knowledge. The office had demonstrated
this by initiate in hosting training and mentorship programmes for State Veterinans focusing on
poultry diseases affecting the industry. The (pdma) to realise the importance and
act upon it, that great jester.
We need to start developing more poultry disease experts. Private and state vets of this country. As much as the disease is a threat to the industry. There will be no point of tackling or trying to solve the disease problem without a combination of state and private vets working together.
South Africa we have different poultry veterinary sectors, namely the public
veterinary services (government) and private veterinary sector. Both of these
sectors play a significant role in the country’s biggest and important sector
in animal production, poultry.
have been concerns raised by the poultry national veterinary service, consumer
groups, poultry producer groups that a gap of communication or lack of
relationship between the public and private still exist. Due to such, many feel
that the food safety, animal health and welfare might have been compromised. As
a result the entire veterinary service may become if not already, weaker and
Since the establishment of Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) by the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), PDMA has taken upon itself the initiative role of developing a partnership relationship between the Public and Private sectors to combat poultry diseases, through the following:
disease contact sessions for both state and private veterinarians
government’s disease prevention policies and protocols with the involvement of
both sectors etc.
a meeting which was recently held between PDMA, Department of Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries Veterinarians officials, Private Veterinarians and the
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at the AVI Africa 2014. It was discuss
that the lacking and poorly developed monitoring and delivery of commercialised
tasks still exist, which are namely:
of public health, food or animal inspection,
the health and certificates of imported and exported animals or products of
Animal products or animals posing a risk of spreading animal
diseases etc. which fairly
undermines the service of the public interest.
of the mentioned issues surrounding the partnership relationship. I propose
that a clear compartmentalisation plan must be drafted and put into place by
looking at the functions of both sectors and formally linking them together
Functions of Public
and legislative framework;
(border and inland);
of main contagious diseases;
of drugs, quality control, destruction;
data systems (Animal Resource Data and Information Systems)
of food safety, import and export inspection and certification according to
Functions of Private Veterinary
deliver preventive, curative and promotive services that largely benefit
individual animals and their owners, i.e. to deliver private goods and services;
of livestock products;
develop a clear concept of compartmentalisation of the two sectors for it to
work by implementing the following
The institution of a special transition team to
plan and oversee the implementation of any restructuring process has been found
This team should be guided by an advisory council
with stakeholder representatives including members appointed from the national
veterinary service, the national treasury, the pharmaceutical industry,
livestock producer groups and consumer groups and advice should be sought from
countries that have successfully gone through a similar transition process;
Determining which tasks should be commercialised;
Standardise and compartmentalisation of
bio-security as a disease preventative method;
Safe trade based on scientific risk analysis;
Deliver high quality and effective services
Maintaining public support and funding;
Providing transparent reports to international
bodies (OIE) and neighbouring countries collectively.
An overall objective of restructuring of veterinary
services should be to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of animal
health care delivery and, consequently disease free poultry productivity,
safeguard public health, and contribute to national development. The end result
should be a public veterinary service better able to carry out its redefined
responsibilities, a functioning private sector and the necessary supporting
personnel and infrastructure able to contribute to the overall objective.
There are only a
few months left to the end of 2014. It seems however like January was only the
other day and that there is still much to do before the end of the year. We
have made some great strides in the work that was planned for this year. We
most pleased with the progress made when it comes to food safety, in particular
the Microbial and Residue monitoring programme. The objectives of setting up
both National Microbial and Residue Monitoring programmes are very close to
With regards to
the microbial monitoring programme, Prof Fosgate, an Epidemiologist based at
Onderstepoort has successfully designed a sampling protocol for poultry meat
that is in the process of being tested at three abattoirs around the country.
So far, one abattoir has completed a month of testing and the other two are in
progress. Once the testing is completed, the protocol will be revised and
retested, taking into account the sizes of the various operations. The idea is
to have a minimum standard that will every producer will be required to
achieve. The larger operation will be able to build on the minimum standard based
on the complexities of their operations. The same protocol will be used to
collect samples for residue testing in poultry meat.
Eggs on the
other hand have lagged behind meat a bit. We can report however that the egg
work has started as well. Prof Fosgate is similarly looking at a sampling
protocol for table eggs. In order to ensure that the correct sampling methods
are used, the results of the monitoring programme run by DAFF will be used.
This will enable us to determine the prevalence of various compounds and
therefore be able to set standards that will monitor those compounds. Again
here the aim is to have a minimum standard for all producers that the larger
producers can build on. It is envisaged that over time, the industry will be
able to guarantee the quality of the products sold to our consumers.
News to tell
DAFF hosted a
workshop on Good Emergency Management
Practice sponsored by the USDA and FAO. The aim of the workshop was to
evaluate the state of South Africa to respond to disease outbreaks and
emergencies. Following the workshop, DAFF will be looking at establishing the
systems that will be required to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to
emergency responses. Multidisciplinary teams will be formed and trained. These
teams will include both government and private sector resources. Some of you
may be called in to assist as experts in your field of work. We encourage you
to support DAFF in this initiative because it will be beneficial to the country
as a whole.
It is also with
the greatest of pride to report back on some of the prestigious honours
bestowed on Prof Celia Abolnik our
Research Chair in Poultry Health and Production. The Chair delivered a keynote
address at the South African Society for Animal Science’s 47th congress on 8 July
2014 entitled “Avian influenza and the South African poultry industry”. The
Chair was invited to present the keynote address on Newcastle Disease at the
WVPA congress to be hosted in Cape Town in 2015. She was also invited to
deliver a keynote address at the Avian Influenza Symposium to be held in
Georgia USA in 2015. We should also not forget Dr Adrian Knoetze of Rainbow Farms who received the WVPA Young Poultry Veterinarian Award at the WVPA
Asia Meeting in Bangkok. This award is given to a poultry veterinarian under
the age of 35 who has ‘not only displayed a commitment to bird health and
customer care, but also a real passion for the poultry industry’.
Please note that an African Residue Congress
will be held on the 25th and 26th November 2014. For more
information please visit the congress site at www.afroresidue.com or contact the secretariat at email@example.com.
As some of you may know, South Africa will be hosting the World
Veterinary Poultry Congress in 2015 in Cape Town. For more information, please
The public sector involvement in industries has been reducing over years due to limited resources, both human and financial. This is a global phenomenon that is necessitated by limited growth of the government tax coffers. There is a constant tug of war between various government priorities that make it difficult to make enough resources available to meet all priorities. It is for this reason that the private sector is getting more involved in activities that were previously delivered by the public sector. This is the case with veterinary services, where government used to provide most of the services free of charge to public. Services such as dipping, vaccinations, deworming and primary health care were delivered to the farmers free of charge.
to the progressively reducing resources, farmers are now sourcing these
services from private veterinarians at their own cost. It is also true of
controlled diseases, where commercial farmers are responsible for testing and
control of these diseases in their livestock. Even in instances where
eradication of diseases is required, the farmer takes the responsibility
without any guarantees of realising compensation to the full value of his/her
situation is the same for the poultry industry in South Africa which currently
receives services from both private and public veterinarians. There is very
little involvement of the state veterinarians in the day to day operations of
the commercial producers. Unfortunately, there is also limited involvement of
state veterinarians in the backyard and small scale poultry operations. There
is therefore a large portion of poultry owners who do not receive any
veterinary support due to the fact that they cannot afford private
veterinarians and the state veterinarians have competing priorities.
decline in resources has been happening at the back of increasing consumer
awareness and demands. The consumer wants good quality food and affordable
prices. To produce good quality food is costly. While the producers are not able
to increase the prices in line with the increased costs because the animal
products have to compete with other basic good that also on the rise resulting
in limited affordability.
PDMA as a Public Private
the concerns that were raised, it was evident that a lack of co-regulating
relationship between the public and private sectors still exist, resulting in
the compromise of food safety, animal health and welfare. To address these
problems, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) saw it fit to establish
a veterinary component called the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) as link
that would focus on the
protection and health of the National Flock and also strengthen the relationship between
the Public and Private veterinary services in addressing animal health issues collectively.
existence of the PDMA frees government to focus on regulatory issues, without
neglecting the producers. The government sets the rules and the business
through the PDMA implements the rules. The PDMA ensures that all poultry
producers, big and small can implement the rules set out by the government. A
study by Martinez et al, (2007), demonstrated that there are various levels of
government interventions (fig.1), from no intervention to direct command and
control intervention. It is clear that doing nothing is never an option and
that with decreasing government resources, direct command and control is also
not possible. Many countries are opting for PPP to reach a level of government
intervention that is somewhere in the middle.
The PDMA is such a PPP tool that the poultry industry has elected to
Fig. 1. Options for public intervention.
Source: Martinez et al, Food Policy 32 (2007) 299-314
PDMA has outlined the following as areas of priority:
Engage national and local
government on issues of disease control in the South African poultry
Make use of the database of
poultry farms in South Africa to assist DAFF with monitoring of notifiable
disease such as Avian Influenza, Salmonella and Newcastle Disease, while
using it to develop monitoring programmes for important disease such as
Appoint or designate veterinarians
with expertise in poultry diseases in each Province who would be available
to assist state veterinarians in the event of disease outbreaks in
commercial, smallholder and subsistence poultry in those provinces.
Investigate the role of the PDMA
in training state veterinarians and/or Animal Health Technicians so as to
improve the service delivered by the state in the event of disease
outbreaks on poultry farms.
Consider developing a residue
monitoring programme for poultry products nationally, or at least a
database of residue monitoring data which is available.
Deliver improved technical and
veterinary support to smallholder poultry farmers so that they can achieve
greater production success in collaboration with State Veterinary services
or through the PDMA’s own initiatives.
Collaborate with the ostrich
success of the PDMA and its initiatives will aid in combating poultry diseases,
improving the quality of poultry products, assisting with Sanitary and Phyto
Sanitary Standards that improve access to markets, improved communication
between public and private entities, and
making the poultry industry an inclusive industry where small scale producers
have access to opportunities.
value of the PDMA is evident in the interactions with the following government
Department of Agriculture Forestry and
Veterinary Public Health
Food Safety and Quality Assurance
Agriculture Inputs Control
Department of Science and Technology
Public and Private Laboratories
Other animal products organisations and
the threat posed by poultry infectious diseases such as Newcastle as well as
other zoonotic diseases in South Africa.
Co-regulation of veterinary services will increase the efficiency and
effectiveness of animal health care delivery and, consequently disease free
poultry productivity. It will also aid in safeguarding public health, and
contribute to national poultry development. The end result should be a public
veterinary service that is better positioned to carry out its regulatory responsibilities,
a functioning private sector and the necessary supporting personnel and
infrastructure able to contribute to the combined objectives.
In South Africa there are two poultry veterinary sectors, namely the public veterinary services (government) and private veterinary sector. Both of these sectors play a significant role in the country’s biggest and important sector in animal production, poultry.
the past recent years there have been concerns raised by the national poultry
veterinary service, consumer groups and poultry producer groups that:
demand for quality meat from consumer has been an on-going challenge;
and combating diseases nationally has been impossible to do it;
public veterinary services have shown their limitations in providing the comprehensive
animal health services needed for poultry development and is unable to reach
has been limitation of area access for private veterinary services to assist in
private sector has been providing new technological services to commercial
has been price hiking and fraud;
has been absence of clear safe trade based on scientific risk analysis;
of enormous poultry import which is a threat to veterinary public health.
the concerns that were raised, it was evident that a lack of co-regulating relationship
between the public and private sectors still exist, resulting in the compromise
of food safety, animal health and welfare.
these problems, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) saw it fit to establish
a veterinary component called the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) as link
that would focus on the
protection and health of the National Flock and also strengthen the relationship between
the Public and Private veterinary services in addressing animal health issues collectively,
The following are the four main areas or focus for the PDMA:
Safety through protection of public health, food and animal inspection;
or animal products posing risk of spreading diseases;
control through training of state veterinarians;
reporting and surveillance.
successful establishment of PDMA and its initiative role of developing a
partnership between the Public and Private sectors have managed to combat poultry
diseases. A clear compartmentalisation has been developed to:
efficiency by exposing business and services to greater possible competition,
to the benefit of the consumer;
the overload of work from public sector;
the best value for each industry or service the government sells;
surveillance the main contagious diseases and report it;
and policy framework for supporting Public Private Partnership (PPP);
transparent reports to international bodies (OIE) and neighbouring countries
disease contact sessions for both state and private veterinarians;
public veterinary policy and protocols planning and implementation;
high quality and effective services collectively;
public support and funding;
standardise and compartmentalisation of bio-security as a disease preventative
the threat posed by poultry infectious diseases such as Newcastle as well as
other zoonotic diseases in South Africa.
The aim of co-regulating veterinary services would increase the efficiency and
effectiveness of animal health care delivery and, consequently disease free
poultry productivity, safeguard public health, and contribute to national
development. The end result should be a public veterinary service better able
to carry out its redefined responsibilities, a functioning private sector and the
necessary supporting personnel and infrastructure able to contribute to the
Focus on biosecurity in backyard and small-scale chickens
South Africa’s poultry represents an important sector in animal production, with backyard flocks representing the majority among villagers and small-scale farmers. These communities raise poultry to meet household food demands and an additional source of income.
For many of
these biosecurity is a “BIG” word that makes one think of government intrusion,
regulations and policies. However, biosecurity is a basic and fundamental requirement
that anyone rearing chickens should be aware of if they want to protect their
With no or
limited biosecurity implementation, a backyard or small-scale poultry producer
is at a high risk of infectious diseases, such as Newcastle disease,
salmonella, and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
To prevent and avoid these infectious poultry diseases
some of which are also a threat to human health, national flock health and the
economy, there is a need to implement basic biosecurity measures in small scale
back-yard chickens. Biosecurity should be a regulated standard measure,
implemented in all production facilities or places that rear poultry. It is the
cheapest and most effective method of disease control in poultry.
What is biosecurity? Biosecurity is a measure (method)
implemented in farms (mostly commercial farms) to prevent the introduction and
persistence of infectious agents through control of traffic (both humans and
vehicles) proper and adequate sanitation and isolation of flocks, particularly
young chicks. Biosecurity literally means provision of safety to living things.
“Bio” refers to life and “Security” means protection.
A year ago I was invited to a broiler farmer’s day in
Polokwane. This was a day to educate and share information with small scale
farmers on broiler production, management and disease prevention. I was given
the opportunity to do a presentation on biosecurity as a form of disease
prevention to a broiler producer community located in Kga-Matlala rearing and
producing 5500 birds per week, weighing between 370-400g at slaughter.
To demonstrate the low biosecurity measures
in these flocks, the broiler houses were located and fenced with residential
There was no entrance gate for human and
vehicle traffic control and restriction of movement of vehicles.
There was no control or records of the
visitors and, no farm safety clothes and shoes.
Cooking of poultry and other poultry products
take place on the farm.
No rodents, wild birds and foreign animals’
isolation programme existed on farm.
A mortality pit was not available.
The community consumed and sold birds that
had dies from unknown diseases to people in the same community. Feed and
bedding was not stored in a secure place.
The above are some very simple basic
biosecurity measures that need to be implemented by the community.
Because community members never understood how an
operational biosecurity works on a farm, I gave them some few importance points
on bio-security looking at the following points.
prevent entry of pathogenic organism into the farm
avoid profit losses due to diseases
protect human health
Benefits of bio-security:
keep out diseases
the spread of diseases
overall health of the flock
Three major biosecurity measures
required to control the spread of diseases:
of birds in different houses and far away from contact with ordinary people
Control of both people and vehicles
Record keeping as part of a disease
prevention biosecurity plan:
was on the farm?
were they on the farm?
brought them onto the farm?
they been on another poultry facility?
What should we
do? Given the current disease status at poultry farms in South Africa many may
agree on the importance of shifting focus, investing time and standardising
policies on implementing operational biosecurity measures to small-scale and
backyard farms through educational programmes and practical training. This is
an urgent matter due to the numerous reports of new castle disease outbreaks in
the back-yard poultry flock. In 2013 an outbreak of Newcastle disease from
backyard flock was reported to the Poultry Disease Management Agency office
through our engagement with the State Veterinarians. One to a lack of reporting
and co-ordination, the disease has spread into some commercial farms, affecting
the industry’s economy and production. Once an outbreak of infectious diseases
like Newcastle disease occurs and the diseases become established and endemic
in the country, it is very difficult to eradicate these diseases from the farm
and the control is both time consuming and money costly.
Disease Management Agency can start by having discussions on running the
biosecurity programme for small scale poultry farmers through engaging and
liaising with government’s animal health technicians and agricultural advisors,
who work directly with the small-scale producers and backyard chickens farmers,
to eventually help these farmers and protect the national backyard flock.
threat posed by poultry infectious diseases such as Newcastle as well as other
zoonotic diseases in smallholder poultry flocks, a comprehensive plan or
programme to identify simpler and adaptive methods/ways of implementing
biosecurity measures in the smallholder poultry flocks and educate farmers is
purpose is to protect the National Flock through education, monitoring and
management of diseases which threaten the health of the flock and food
Since most of
you will be reading this edition at Avi Africa, I could spend time sharing the
achievements and the challenges faced by the PDMA in the last year. However,
since there will be many other opportunities to do that, I would like to take
this opportunities to discuss a matter that is very close to my heart. I would
like us to reflect about what we are doing individually and collectively to
understand the disease situation in the country and how we can work together to
start reducing the national disease burden.
We have launched
a few initiatives that you may well be aware of. We are also working very
closely with DAFF to ensure consistency in the work and also to employ the
limited resources in the most productive manner. We wish to have the producers
as active participants in all these processes and hope that you will send your
contributions to make sure that these processes stay relevant to your needs.
1. Establishing the farm locations
In order to
effectively fight diseases, it is essential that we have a good idea of where
our poultry farms are. This also helps to mobilise the appropriate resources in
an event of a major disease outbreak. We would like to thank you for your
participation and as you can see from the diagrams below, we have made great
strides in this regard and it is through all your inputs and commitment.
Figure 1: Map
of farm locations based of 2013 coordinates
We have moved
from having farms in the ocean, Mozambique, Lesotho and even further north to
farms being limited to within the South African borders. This is indeed a great
achievement and it will help with further projects. Obviously we will continue
to make improvements to the information and get it as accurate and is humanly
Figure 2: Map
of farm locations based of 2014 coordinates
2. AI Surveillance changes and improvements
It is now a
known fact that in order to demonstrate our freedom from Highly Pathogenic
Avian Influenza, we have mandatory biannual testing to be done by all farmers.
The government is responsible for the testing of backyard and smallholder farms.
The commercial farmers are responsible for testing of their own flocks. Most of
you who do business in other country know the importance of such testing to
maintaining your businesses with the trading partners. The importance of this
cannot be over emphasised.
In the past, the
routine surveillance protocol was embedded in the AI contingency plan, which
those of you who have seen it would agree it is quite a cumbersome document,
but still very important document. Since routine testing is conducted twice a
year, it was decided that the surveillance protocol would serve the industry
better as a stand-alone easily accessible document. It is also important to
point out that even though our potential trading partners are only interested
in H5 and H7, in South Africa, all avian influenzas are controlled diseases.
This means that any positive influenza result has to be reported to the state
It is for this
reason that we have in the new protocol highlighted the need to start testing
with a screening ELISA and then typing any positive results into whatever
influenza that it may be. The positive results again need to be reported to the
state vets. This is essentially for your protection so that we can keep track
of the influenza circulating in the environment, including the ones that can
potentially destroy the industry. It is also important to note that all kinds
of influenzas are routines isolated in wild birds, meaning the threat is never
far away as evidenced by the ostrich situation.
We would like to
encourage you to keep testing and also to submit your test results to the local
state vet and also to SAPA for record keeping. If there are any of you who have
problems with identifying your local state vet, please let us know and we will
assist with the connections. Most provinces are good with data submission, but
there are some who in spite of spending money testing their flocks never submit
the results to the state. This unfortunately has a grave impact on not only the
province but the country as a whole, including other industries.
3. Food-borne Diseases Surveillance Project
As part of our
continued collaboration with the department, the PDMA is working with DAFF VPH
to develop a protocol for surveying the food-borne diseases. DAFF VPH in
collaboration with the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute is rolling out a
project to test beef, pork and poultry products for food-borne bacteria. We are
working with them to develop the poultry testing protocol that will be used by
both parties. The Onderstepoort Epidemiology Professors have been engaged to
draft this protocol. This protocol we help to standardise the work done by
industry as well as government. It helps to make better use of the limited
resources. It will help to produce meaningful reports that will help the
strategy for improving food quality and producing safe food for both parties.
Once the product
testing has been perfected, the focus with shift to the farm testing to limited
the transfer of pathogens from the farms to the forks. This project has already
started and we hope to conclude most of it during the course of 2014. The same
protocol will be used to monitor the imported products and also the products
intended for the export markets. It is also envisaged that the protocol will be
accepted by the retailers so that one standard testing can be conducted to
satisfy all the retailers.
4. Mycoplasma Surveillance Project
I think we are
in agreement that Mycoplasmas are probably the most important group of diseases
in poultry due to their resilience and tendencies to stick around despite all
efforts made to eradicate them from farms. Most producers have accepted that
they are going to have to farm with Mycoplasma and make the best of a very
of this, Prof Celia Abolnik gained funding from the Technology Innovation
Agency (TIA) to conduct research into the local mycoplasma situation and working
towards finding solution to the problem. The first stage of the project is to
collect circulation field strains and doing full genome sequencing to establish
the various types of strains, how they related to the available vaccines and
also how they differ from area to area. This project kicked-off in April 2014
and we are working through the veterinarians to get the information in. The
target populations are the table egg layers as well as all types of breeders.
All producers are encouraged to take part in the surveillance so that we can
start to work towards finding some solutions to the problem.
This phase of
the project will run from April to September 2014. If there are any of you who
wish to participate but do not have the services of a consulting vet, please
contact the PDMA and we can link you up with either a poultry-trained state vet
or one of the consulting vets in your area. This project is very important to
the fight against mycoplasma and we really encourage you to participate so that
we can start to make meaningful progress in the fight against the disease.
5. Laboratory collaboration for disease reporting
In 2014 during
the Newcastle Disease outbreak, the PDMA received numerous requests for updates
on the disease and how it was moving around the country. Unfortunately at the
moment the PDMA relies on the producers and the veterinarian to submit the
information. This has not worked very well thus far. In an attempt to get some
data coming in and reports going out, we are looking at working with the
laboratories to access the information. We will be signing an agreement with
the department, which will enable us as the PDMA to collect the information and
produce reports for the benefit of the industry at large. We will also be
working to further develop the disease reporting tools further.
that these are very difficult times for the industry and we plan to focus on
those things that will help the industry save money and still move forward. We
believe that reducing the disease burden will go a long way in assisting
because the more birds that one can sell, the more money one is able to make. I
urge you to continue providing feedback that will enable us to stay on track
and also employ these scarce resources for maximum output and results.