Chickens Hurt in Blackouts Prompt South Africa Power Request
South African chicken producers will ask the government to help them guarantee electricity supply to the nation’s biggest abattoirs as almost-daily power cuts are harming the birds’ welfare and creating health risks.
The slaughterhouses, some of which can process as many as 13,000 chickens hourly, can’t rely on generators as they aren’t able to create sufficient power for their needs, South African Poultry Association chief executive officer Kevin Lovell said. The birds are typically stunned unconscious by electrocution before they are decapitated while hanging upside down, he said.
When power cuts interrupt the process, the birds “have been stunned but they haven’t been killed; they’re hanging upside down and they’re coming back alive,” he said at Bloomberg’s offices in Johannesburg 26 June. “It’s a real problem. And it’s a huge waste problem because everything that stops in the process, sometimes hundreds of tons, has to be cleared. You have to clean and sterilize everything and then you have to dump at a medical waste site.”
SAPA, as the poultry lobby is known, will approach the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries about asking Eskom and municipalities to directly control power supply to 20 of the largest slaughterhouses, which process about 80 percent of the country’s production, and provide about eight hours’ notice before cuts are introduced, Lovell said.
Eskom will attempt to accommodate the needs of the poultry industry once producers have made an approach, Khulu Phasiwe, a spokesman for Eskom, said by phone Tuesday.
A company operating in the Western Cape province has arranged that it gets forewarned about planned disruptions and switches off supply to its feed mill during the day in exchange for not having electricity to its abbatoir cut, Lovell said.
“Maybe that’s the sort of solution we can come up with,” he said.
Bloomberg News, edited by ESM