The African branch of the Humane Society International (HSI) has said that scheduled power cuts had led to the culling of millions of farm animals in South Africa. Chickens, cows, fishes, and pigs kept in intensive farms rely on power for ventilation, lighting, and temperature control to avoid overheating and illness, so when power companies engage in load shedding (when they switch off the supply to some customers to meet high-capacity demand) farmers end up killing their animals much earlier they planned to do so.
HSI has urged the South African government, producers and the public to take into account the animals that were suffering due to all these common blackouts. It said that in the first few weeks of 2023, 10 million day-old chicks were killed, and at least 40,000 birds died as a result of the disruption caused by persistent load shedding. The problem gets worse with big factory farming facilities that are automated.
Candice Blom, a farm specialist for HSI Africa, said to IOL: “Animals are individual, sentient beings whose welfare matters. The well-being of millions of animals is a serious concern, along with economic loss, food insecurity, and food price increases relating to load shedding. Extreme confinement is a defining feature of factory farms that millions of creatures across South Africa are already enduring. Now their suffering is made even worse due to the lack of power. This emergency situation underlines that it is simply not sustainable to continue producing food in this way. Disease outbreaks, events like veld fires and droughts, and now load shedding, all put the animal agriculture industry in a permanent state of crisis with devastating effects on farmed animals… 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. The public can help by making humane food choices that will not only help improve the welfare of farmed animals but decrease food insecurity in South Africa too, by choosing plant-based alternatives to animal proteins.” It is encouraging that HSI, an animal welfare organisation that does not normally advocate for veganism, is finally encouraging people to become vegan to solve the animal welfare problems they have been dealing with for decades.