SOUTH AFRICA – South African poultry businesses have collaborated in the opening of a newly built R56 million (US$3.11m) hatchery in Limpopo, with a capacity to produce 208, 000 quality day-old-chicks weekly.

Northroost hatchery is a joint venture between local Makhado entrepreneur Clive Tigere of KC Hatchery, Country Bird Holdings (CBH) and Bushvalley Chicken.

“This is a game changer for broiler farmers in Limpopo who have never before had access to such consistent volumes of high-quality day-old chicks. The local economy will benefit, more jobs can be created and the informal market can grow,” Tigere acclaimed during the opening ceremony.

Under the partnership, CBH will supply fertilised Arbor Acre eggs, while Clive will oversee the hatching process and Bushvalley will act as the main offtaker, purchasing a significant percentage of the day-old chicks.

Explaining how the project was initiated, CBH Chief Executive Officer Brendon de Boer explained that, “Clive qualified for an Industrial Development Corporation grant and we had started the application process over year ago, but government funding always take time and we didn’t want to delay.

“So, between CBH and Bushvalley, we decided to find the bridge financing so that we could get going with construction.”

According to reports by Engineering news, Northroost’s first batch of fertilised eggs were set on August 24 and hatched on September 14, setting in motion a cycle in which two batches a week are hatched, several days apart.

So far, Tigere has maintained a good hatch ratio of over 90%, and by the time of the official opening, the tally stood at over a million day-old-chicks that have been distributed into the broiler market of Limpopo.

The new hatchery was constructed with expansion in mind, and the infrastructure can be easily adapted in future to double its current capacity.

Quality hatchery equipment was imported, water reservoirs were built and generators installed to keep the systems going in the event of power outages.

“Farmers from Limpopo can now raise high-quality chicks efficiently, without the high transport costs that are generally incurred when bringing chicks in from hundreds of kilometers away.

“As their costs go down, they can become more competitive, grow their businesses, and create more jobs, and we will see this positive response circling further and further,” said Tigere.

Launch of the hatchery is timely as chicken meat production in South Africa is set to increase by 2 percent in 2023 to 1.6 million tons as a result of normalization of feed costs, improvement of the animal health situation, economic recovery, and investment by the industry.

USDA in a GAIN report, forecasts production will increase only marginally during this period due to the myriad of challenges associated with higher feed and fuel prices.

Also, production in the recent years has been impacted by outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Meanwhile, the rate of chicken consumption in the country is also expected to increase by 2 percent in 2023 from 1.89 million tons attained in 2022.

As consumption is set to rise, the country will turn to imports to meet the demand not satisfied by local production, with imports expected to increase marginally by 3 percent.

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