High demand for chicks in Zimbabwe forces country to turn to imports despite registering growth in output

ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s poultry industry recorded a 61% jump in output in the second quarter of this year in comparison to the previous corresponding period, producing 22.2 million broiler day-old-chicks.

This was revealed by the Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) indicating it was a rise from 13.8m attained in Q2 of 2020.

During the period under review, broiler day-old-chicks averaged 7.4 million per month, being 9% higher than the first quarter and matched the peak performance achieved in the second quarter of 2018.

A total of 42.7 million day-old-chicks were marketed over the first six months of the year compared with 4.6 million in 2018 when the industry was recovering from an Avian influenza outbreak and half the production of day-old-chicks was based on imports of hatching eggs.

“The excellent rains experienced in the 2020-21 season have resulted in improved economic growth and demand for poultry products. Good grain harvest coupled with on-farm feed mixing has resulted in increased demand for day-old-chicks by farmers.

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However, despite the improvement of broiler breeder stocks and production of hatching eggs and day-old-chicks, demand for chicks remains strong with reports of unmet orders for chicks in the second quarter and prices of chicks remaining very high.

“The increased demand has necessitated supplementary imports of hatching eggs. There is therefore, a need for a further roll-over of the duty-free imports of hatching eggs to alleviate day-old-chicks supply challenges and reduce prices going into the third quarter and fourth quarter,” ZPA chairperson Solomon Zawe said.

The report shows that the price of day-old-chicks continued to increase and was $11 453 per 100 chicks in June, while the chick price in United States dollar terms stabilised at US$91 per 100 chicks for the months March to June.

It said the estimate of broiler meat production is based on total day-old-chicks produced.

Zawe said returns from large-scale abattoir operators provided information on the number of birds processed, primarily for the large retail outlets, and is approximately one third of the total number of chicks marketed.

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“The difference between total chicks sold and birds processed by large-scale abattoirs is assumed to be chicks taken up mostly by small and medium producers.

“These differences, after taking into consideration estimated mortalities, are used to provide an estimate of meat production from this sector,” he said.

Large-scale, estimated small-scale and total meat production in the review period increased by 10%, 13% and 12%, respectively compared with the first quarter, and was 66% up in the same period last year which was negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Total meat produced for the six months of the year was estimated at 67,298 metric tonnes, equalling peak production attained in the first six months of 2018.

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