Avian flu outbreak signals the need for more bio-secure waste management.

At the beginning of May, the Western Cape Veterinary Services announced the detection of Avian influenza at two commercial farms within the Western Cape. Since the announcement, approximately 550 000 chickens have been culled and many more eggs destroyed to prevent the further spread of the virus. This leaves the poultry sector with thousands of kilograms of high-risk – hazardous organic waste that needs to be carefully disposed of and treated. BiobiN South Africa discusses the importance of bio-secure waste management within the poultry sector to safeguard livestock, food production and to prevent further contamination.

“When there is an outbreak of a virus of this pathogenic nature, it is crucial to isolate the affected areas as quickly as possible. Following this, any mortalities should be contained immediately and processed in a bio-secure manner,” says Brian Küsel, director of BiobiN South Africa. “This means that your waste volumes should be processed in a contained unit and carefully monitored throughout the decomposition process.”

Since the first announcement, Avian flu has since spread to five farms throughout the Western Cape. It is a viral disease spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials. Avian flu is also known to be an airborne virus making it important to separate infected livestock immediately. A farm’s hygiene and waste disposal practices need to account for this.

Considering the problematic nature of organic waste in landfill, causing harmful leachate and atmospheric emissions through the degradation process, landfilling mortalities is not a sustainable option. Incineration, a previously preferred method for pathogen control and bio-secure waste management, is also being replaced. “Nowadays, organic waste processing and composting technology is being designed to account for high protein and fatty organic waste, which are most animal products,” says Küsel. “With the right heat conditions within an enclosed composting unit, filtration, and consistently aerating the waste volume, we can eliminate grade 1 pathogens and type A viruses, such Salmonella typhimurium and HPAI,  within the waste.” 

BiobiN South Africa has been working closely with the poultry sector to supply a bio-secure organic waste management system positioned on-site and accessed quickly. This is crucial to contain hazardous waste volumes. The typical temperature created within the BiobiN composting unit vary between 35 and 55 degrees Celsius. The process creates a high concentration of ammonia and, in combination with heat, will kill off common pathogens such as E.coli, Salmonella typhimurium, and HPAI (avian flu). 

“Whether it be an on-site composting unit or through an external waste management service provider, mortalities need to be treated according to hazardous waste standards,” says Küsel. “Along with biosecurity, a big consideration is the sustainability of the waste treatment process that a facility will use. With the cost of landfilling organic waste increasing and landfill regulations tightening, this will no longer be the most feasible option. Composting organic waste streams, including mortalities, will allow agricultural businesses to create a circular economy on-site with their organic waste.” Keep up with the conversation at www.biobin.co.za or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BiobiNSouthAfrica

Scroll to Top