Chicken Industry

Lively trade in cull hens

A little-known side of the South African poultry industry is shown in a report on the cull hen trade in the latest issue of the Poultry Bulletin.

Published by the SA Poultry Association, the Bulletin notes that more than a million live chickens were sold to cull traders in the first quarter of 2021 for distribution in the informal economy. The statistics are contained in SAPA’s cull traders report for the first three months of the year. 

“A thriving and lucrative live bird market exists in townships and rural areas, and is part of the poultry value chain,” the report says. “The informal economy provides livelihoods for thousands of South Africans, especially women, and is an important source of food for lower income households. 

Since the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in South Africa in 2017, the movement of live birds has been regulated to manage the risks posed by their transportation. 

Cull buyers have to be registered, and both producers and cull buyers must report transactions, which are consolidated. Permits are required to remove flocks from farms, and to move live birds across provincial and national boundaries. 

During the first three months of 2021, a total of 1 079 068 live birds were purchased by cull traders. Nearly half of the trade occurred in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.