Millions of farm animals culled because of load shedding, says animal protection organisation

Millions of farm animals are being culled because of ongoing power cuts. File Picture

Millions of farm animals are being culled because of ongoing power cuts. File Picture

Published Jan 25, 2023


Cape Town – The Human Society International/Africa said rolling blackouts had led to the culling of millions of farm animals.

It said tens of millions of chickens, cows, fish, and pigs were suffering.

Ongoing load shedding and frequent changes in the schedule of the power cuts vastly increased the risk of a huge number of animals enduring overheating, stress, illness and suffering painful deaths as a result of a lack of energy-dependent ventilation, lighting and temperature control, the organisation said.

It urged the government, producers and the public to take into account the animals that were suffering and act to improve their welfare

It said in the past six weeks, 10 million day-old chicks were culled, and at least 40 000 birds had died as a result of the disruption caused by persistent load shedding.

It said while the concern for the impact on producers and farmworkers was vocalised, the lethal impact on animals was being overlooked.

The organisation said the impact on animal welfare was most acutely felt in intensive production systems where the animals’ unnatural and automated environment was dependent on a constant supply of electricity.

Candice Blom, a farm specialist for the Human Society International/Africa, said: “Animals are individual, sentient beings whose welfare matters. The well-being of millions of animals is a serious concern, along with economic loss, food insecurity, and food price increases relating to load shedding.

“Extreme confinement is a defining feature of factory farms that millions of creatures across South Africa are already enduring.

“Now their suffering is made even worse due to the lack of power. This emergency situation underlines that it is simply not sustainable to continue producing food in this way,” she said.

“Disease outbreaks, events like veld fires and droughts, and now load shedding, all put the animal agriculture industry in a permanent state of crisis with devastating effects on farmed animals,”

Blom said load shedding was not a new experience and farms should have a disaster management plan in place to avoid the unnecessary suffering and destruction of animals when power supplies were disrupted.

At present, the country is moving between load-shedding stages 3 and 4 daily.

She urged policymakers to make it mandatory for farmers to create and implement those plans.

“It is also time for the South African government to rethink and support changes to our food system and for farmers to move away from intensive animal production.

“The public can help by making humane food choices that will not only help improve the welfare of farmed animals but decrease food insecurity in South Africa too, by choosing plant-based alternatives to animal proteins,” Blom said.

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