East Cape’s small farms catch bird flu

By Thabisa Ndzindzwa

Small poultry farmers in the Eastern Cape are scrambling for solutions to the outbreak of bird flu, aka avian influenza.

The first outbreak was reported by the Western Cape government on 21 April, and the disease has been spreading to parts of the Eastern Cape.

Farmers in the Mount Fletcher region have been badly affected and are turning to everything from herbal remedies to pharmaceuticals.

Nomahlubi Rose Phambo had 109 broiler chickens and 229 red chicken egg layers, and has lost about 59 of them.

“It’s been hard because I would find them dead,” she said.

“I tried using different medicines that did not help me at all until VET Services in Matatiel came and took blood samples and gave me an anti-virus medicine.”


She has now started incorporating home remedies to help her prevent viral and bacterial diseases after she was advised by a fellow farmer who was not affected by the outbreak — a situation he attributed to the use of natural home remedies.

Nosipho Vuthela, a chairperson of Gedlumhlanga Youth Co-op and Farmers, says she has been using natural remedies that help prevent any viral diseases.

“I use herbs and medicinal plants like onion chives, which helps prevent bacterial diseases. Spinach helps with iron supplements and the blackjack plant (umhlabangubo), which acts as an antioxidant, is good in controlling viral diseases,” she said.

As a developing farmer she said it is important for her to use these remedies because they are cost effective, as they are medicines that are already there in the garden.

The young farmer said she believes that all farmers should take note that as the season changes, a lot of viral and bacterial diseases will be on the rise, and they should follow biosecurity ensuring cleanliness in their livestock shelters.

Some of these diseases are caused by dirt and a lack of ventilation.

“What works for me is using organic natural remedies like aloe vera because they are more beneficial. I also use onion chives that I add to their drinking water and also put it above their beds, so they stay on it.”

She recommends these methods as measures that farmers should incorporate going forward because they are sustainable and cost less money.

Nosipho is currently growing her Chicken Broilers in batches of 100 per batch to ensure she does not run out of stock. They take seven weeks to be ready for the market.

Pictured above: Three-week-old broiler chicks

Image source: Supplied

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