South Africa dominates commercial poultry production in the SADC region, producing 1.7 million tonnes of poultry meat and 7.7 billion eggs in 2012. The average person will consume 38kg of chicken meat and 153 eggs per annum. The poultry industry is the largest agricultural sector in South Africa, generating over R 31.7 billion Rand per annum. South Africa is the current world leader in ostrich production, with 75% of global market share. The value of the South African ostrich production system amounts to over R1.2 billion with approximately R700 million Rand resulting from ostrich meat alone (62% of total income), with 32% and 6% of income generated by ostrich leather and feathers respectively. Nearly 300 000 birds are slaughtered per annum to produce around 6 million kg of ostrich meat, of which 98% is exported to the EU and the remaining 2% to the Far East. Disease outbreaks have severe consequences on these industries, where profit margins are relatively tight and in the case of AIV and ostrich production, culling and export bans that have devastating economic impacts. The research conducted by the Chair and students is geared towards assisting the poultry industry to mitigate the risks to production by generating scientific information and tools to improve detection and control, and better understand the conditions and pathogens causing diseases.

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