Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Egg producer Quantum Foods on Monday temporarily closed down the remaining two sites of the Lemoenkloof commercial layer farm as the outbreak of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) continued to plague its eggs farms in the Western Cape.

The recent outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus have sent shock waves through the poultry industry in South Africa after it was first detected in June.

The bird flu has continued to spread in South Africa as more cases of the outbreak were recorded in six of the nine provinces and millions of birds have been culled to date.

Quantum Foods last month depopulated two entire sites at which the AI was detected as a preventative measure.

But despite the preventative action and measures implemented to contain the further spread, the integrated egg and broiler group said there was still AI confirmed in some poultry houses on the remaining two sites of the Lemoenkloof commercial layer farm.

Quantum Foods said these two sites have been quarantined and will be depopulated in totality in an attempt to prevent the further spread of the disease.

The two sites represent eight percent of the national egg supply of the group, resulting in a total of 17% of the group's national egg supply now being affected by the AI.

Quantum Foods said this outbreak occurred despite stringent bio-security measures in place at all its farms, adding that everything possible was being done to ensure that the outbreak is isolated and contained.

The first nine percent of the group's current national table egg supply was affected when two layer houses were depopulated in totality.

"The company is progressing with the re-introduction of current dormant assets in order to mitigate some of this lost egg production capacity. Some of these facilities will already be populated with layer hens before the end of October 2017," the company said in a statement. 

In August, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said that South African farmers were considering importing fertilised eggs after the recent outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of Avian influenza which has ravaged the sector.