SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

National Certificate: Poultry Processing 
49579  National Certificate: Poultry Processing 
SGB Secondary Agriculture: Processing 
AgriSETA - Agriculture SETA  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
National Certificate  Field 01 - Agriculture and Nature Conservation  Secondary Agriculture 
Undefined  133  Level 3  NQF Level 03  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 9999/99  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2026-06-30   2029-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

Purpose of the qualification

The qualification provides learners with the opportunity to gain competence in poultry processing and will facilitate their securing employment in the industry. For those who are already employed in a poultry processing plant, the multi-skilling that the qualification offers will open up a career path in the industry.

The qualification will allow the learners to gain competency and to:
  • Operate and care for the major processing equipment
  • Perform preventative maintenance checks on the processing equipment
  • Meet the processing quotes for the particular products being produced
  • Inspect the poultry carcasses/portions and confirm that these conform to the required standards
  • Operate the data loggers to record the production statistics
  • Monitor the ambient and carcass temperatures to maintain the cold chain
  • Identify any abnormality on a poultry carcass and remove those carcasses
  • Conduct quality assurance checks on all products within the designated area

    The generic nature of the qualification will facilitate multiskilling, which in turn, will have a positive impact on the efficiency and productivity of the processing plants.

    At present the majority of learners at this level have little or no formal training in the industry.

    Rationale for the qualification

    The qualification addresses the urgent need for the establishment of skills and accompanying standards that the industry required, especially within the SMME sector. This will allow them to operate on a more professional basis. The observance of strict health, hygiene and bio-security principles will minimize the risks that these role players face.

    This qualification and the resultant skills that are learnt will have a positive contribution to the establishment of small processing plants in the rural areas that can serve their communities and distant markets.

    The qualification embodies the international requirements for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which will ensure that producers will be able to export poultry products that will meet the stringent international requirements.

    Through the electives, learners will be able to choose a specialization that will impart specific knowledge and skills. 

    Learners who would like to access this qualification should have demonstrated appropriate levels of competence in Communication and Numeracy at NQF level 2.

    Recognition of prior learning
    The qualification may be achieved in part or as a whole through the Recognition of Prior Learning process for the unit standards and the exit level outcomes of the qualification. 


    This qualification consists of a minimum of 133 credits, composed of:
  • Fundamental: 36 credits
  • Core: 77 credits
  • Electives: 20 credits 

    1. Understand all the facets of the poultry processing industry.
    2. Understand the need for constant evaluation and improvement to the standards of health and safety within a poultry processing plant.
    3. Show an understanding of the general anatomy and physiology of poultry with emphasis on the digestive tract.
    4. Show an understanding of the necessity of following strict personal hygiene procedures and the diseases that are commonly transmitted by workers to poultry products.
    5. Understand the need for good standards of abattoir hygiene and the risks that microbiological contaminates can have on the quality of poultry products and the procedures to minimize them.
    6. Indicate the role of water in poultry processing and the internal drainage and effluent management in all areas within the processing chain.
    7. Understand the critical temperature ranges that have to be maintained in each stage of the process and the equipment that is used to monitor and control the cold chain.
    8. Show an understanding of the critical control points within a quality assurance system, where possible contamination or quality lapses may occur, and the operation of the product 'trace and recall' tests. 

  • The species of poultry that are processed in abattoirs are listed
  • The role that poultry meat plays in the provision of food security in South Africa is explained
  • The various factors that are involved in the production, processing and distribution of poultry products are described
  • The importance of creating an awareness of improving the standards of safety is explained
  • The procedures for the evaluation and reporting of safety conditions in an abattoir are described
  • The functions of the major internal components of poultry are described
  • The body systems of poultry are identified
  • The role of the various digestive regions in poultry are explained
  • The importance of the pre-employment medical examination is explained
  • The need to conduct daily monitoring of the health status of employees is explained
  • The infrastructural requirements to ensure the maintenance of good personal hygiene are detailed
  • All the possible sources for contamination of poultry are detailed
  • The seven steps of cleaning and disinfecting the equipment and facilities of an abattoir are explained
  • The procedures for monitoring the hygiene status within the processing plant are described
  • The importance of providing sufficient hot and cold water to all equipment and take-off points in the abattoir is explained
  • The main areas of water usage in the abattoir and the need for water conservation are explained
  • The role that the chlorination of washing water plays in contamination control in an abattoir is described
  • The operation and maintenance of the waste water drainage systems in an abattoir are described
  • The role of cold chain mapping and the monitoring of temperatures of each area/room is explained
  • The cold temperature terminology and the average deep muscle temperatures of poultry meat in the cold chain is explained
  • The role of data capturing of the readings from the thermographs and deep muscle tests is described
  • The composition and operation of the quality assurance programmes are described
  • The importance of the product trace and recall tests are explained
  • The areas (critical control points) that pose the highest risk to compromising quality are identified

    Intergrated assessment
  • The integrated assessment allows the Learners the opportunity to show that they are able to utilize concepts, ideas and actions across the unit standards. This will allow Learners to achieve competency that is in keeping with the purpose of the qualification.
  • An integrated assessment will indicate how theoretical learning is demonstrated in a practical environment in such a way that the application of the work learnt becomes second nature.
  • In conducting an assessment, the quality of the performance must also be evaluated i.e.: both the performance and the thinking behind the action must be qualitative.
  • The assessment should include both formative and summative options and should use various assessment tools i.e. not by observation only. It is required that a Portfolio of Assessment form part of the summative assessment, with practical outcomes being demonstrated in a simulated or real work place situation.
  • A broad range of task-orientated and theoretical tools may be used, with the distinction between practical knowledge and disciplinary knowledge being maintained.
  • It is recommended that the assessment tools give Learners the opportunity to account for their decision-making and problem solving in line with the specific outcomes and related assessment criteria.
  • Learners should be assessed in occupational contexts and activities. The assessment should ensure that the foundational skills are portable and prepare them for further learning, whatever career path they may choose. 

    For levels 2 and 3, the qualifications are internationally comparable with the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, but at Level 1 no generalist qualification exists in these countries.

    Level 1 is uniquely relevant to South Africa as our workforce has a predominantly lower education entry level than the comparable countries and the introduction at this foundational level will facilitate career pathing more readily than at level 2.

    The following New Zealand poultry qualifications were benchmarked against.

    For poultry production the following qualifications were used:
  • Poultry Production Level 2: Ref. 0886. Core 12 and Elective 11 unit standards.
  • Poultry Husbandry Level 3: Ref. 0330. Core 8 and Elective 14 unit standards.

    For poultry processing, no specific qualification is used. The poultry unit standards form part of the generic meat processing qualifications. The following New Zealand unit standards were used:
  • Ref. 18829, 18843, 18851, 18852, 18853, 18854, 18855.
  • Ref. 16104, 16503, 12624, 13491, 20235, 2504.

    In general, the content is similar but the South African standards contain more detail. Their farm and business personnel structure differs to ours in that we have larger staff complements and lower entry levels in the industry.

    Some of the electives in the level 2 and 3 processing qualifications each cover specific processing areas, not machines, in the poultry abattoirs. The poultry industry specifically requested that these unit standards address the two levels, as there are two distinct occupations in each of these areas. This was borne out in the skills profile study that was conducted prior to the generation of the unit standards.

    The machine operators and carcass handlers reside at level 2. They need to gain knowledge of the function and operational duties within the specific department or processing area.

    The supervisors, who reside at level 3 are responsible for production and require a broader perspective and in-depth knowledge to monitor and manage these operations. A close examination of the unit standards will reveal this intent.

    The Poultry Processing level three qualification was compared with the following related United Kingdom certificates:
  • MTC Advanced Certificate in Meat and Poultry, Level 3: Ref. 100/2251/0.
  • MTC Advanced Certificate in Meat and Poultry Hygiene, Level 3: Ref. 100/2366/5.
  • MTC NVQ in Meat and Poultry Processing, Level 3: Ref. Q 1054081.
  • RSPH Certificate in meat inspection, Level 3: Ref. 100/1438/. 

  • The qualification is designed to provide a structured learning path for employees in the Poultry Processing industry in South Africa, be they in employ of commercial businesses or as entrepreneurs.
  • The Level 3 National Certificate in Poultry Processing is seen as a qualification to up-skill the learners who are currently employed in poultry or red meat abattoirs.
  • The qualifications, with national recognition, would not only enable employees to move within the poultry industry, between the fields of Production and Processing, but would also create the opportunity for learners to move into the red meat and abattoir industries.
  • While the Production and Processing qualifications diverge as they progress upwards, there remains sufficient common ground for holders of one qualification to be able to be employed in the other field with minimum additional training. 

  • Anyone assessing a learner against these unit standards must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA and have the experience or in depth knowledge of the poultry processing industry.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of these unit standards or will assess these unit standards must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA. Moderation of assessment will be overseen by the relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines in the relevant qualification and the agreed ETQA procedure.
  • Therefore anyone wishing to be assessed against these unit standards may apply to be assessed by any assessment agency, assessor or provider institution which is accredited by the relevant ETQA. 

    Assessors must:
  • Be accredited as assessors by the relevant ETQA
  • Have experience or in depth knowledge of the poultry production industry
  • Meet any other requirements that may be stipulated by the relevant ETQA 

    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 


    Core  119386  Demonstrate basic understanding of the poultry processing industry  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Core  119452  Show an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of poultry  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Core  119399  Utilise abattoir hygiene in poultry processing  Level 2  NQF Level 02  15 
    Core  119413  Utilise cold chain management in poultry processing  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Core  14063  Apply Self Management through the Concepts of Positive Self-esteem and Resiliency  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  119419  Implement administration and record keeping in poultry processing  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  119436  Implement health and safety principles in a poultry abattoir  Level 3  NQF Level 03  10 
    Core  119393  Implement personal hygiene principles in a poultry abattoir  Level 3  NQF Level 03  15 
    Core  119407  Implement water management in poultry processing  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  116714  Lead a team, plan, allocate and assess their work  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Core  119380  Monitor the quality assurance in a poultry abattoir  Level 3  NQF Level 03  15 
    Fundamental  8968  Accommodate audience and context needs in oral communication  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8971  Analyse and respond to a variety of literary texts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9010  Demonstrate an understanding of the use of different number bases and measurement units and an awareness of error in the context of relevant calculations  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9013  Describe, apply, analyse and calculate shape and motion in 2-and 3-dimensional space in different contexts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8969  Interpret and use information from texts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  9012  Investigate life and work related problems using data and probabilities  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  7456  Use mathematics to investigate and monitor the financial aspects of personal, business and national issues  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Fundamental  8970  Write texts for a range of communicative contexts  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Elective  119445  Defeather poultry  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119432  Operate a portion cutting machine in a poultry abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02  12 
    Elective  119438  Operate a processing scale in a poultry abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02  10 
    Elective  119415  Operate a processing scanner in a poultry abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119426  Operate an automatic tray wrapper in a poultry abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119451  Perform 1st phase evisceration in poultry  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119476  Perform 2nd phase evisceration in poultry  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119453  Process poultry fresh meat products in an abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119446  Process poultry frozen meat products in an abattoir  Level 2  NQF Level 02 
    Elective  119401  Implement the cold storage and despatch practices in a poultry abattoir  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Elective  119390  Manage the receiving of live birds and placing on the poultry processing line  Level 3  NQF Level 03 
    Elective  119400  Slaughter birds in a poultry abattoir  Level 3  NQF Level 03 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
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    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.