Millions of farmed animals have died due to rolling blackouts that lead to overheating, stress, illness and painful deaths because of a lack of electricity-dependent ventilation, lighting and temperature control.
This is according to the animal protection organisation, Humane Society International (HSI), which states that 10 million day-old chicks have been culled, and at least 40 000 birds have died due to disruptions caused by persistent load shedding.
Farm animal specialist for HSI/Africa Candice Blom said: “The well-being of millions of animals is a serious concern, along with the economic loss, food insecurity, and food price increases relating to load shedding.”
Blom concedes that extreme confinement is a defining feature that millions of creatures across South Africa have to endure in factory farms.
The animal protection organisation said that while concern for the impact on producers and farmworkers was rightly vocalised, the lethal impact on animals was being overlooked.
“The animal welfare impacts are most acutely felt in intensive production systems where the animals’ unnatural and automated environment are dependent on a constant supply of electricity,” said HSI in a statement.
HSI added farmers usually had disaster management in place to avoid unnecessary suffering and mitigate the destruction of animals when power supplies were disrupted.
“Policymakers should require that farmers create and implement those plans. It is also time for the South African government to rethink and support changes to our food system and for farmers to move away from intensive animal production.”
HSI added that the public could help by making humane food choices that not only helped improve the welfare of farmed animals but also decreased food insecurity in South Africa by choosing plant-based alternatives to animal proteins.