Local chickens to cost 50pc more

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 April, 1998, 12:00am

Consumers will pay 50 per cent more for the first locally bred chickens to hit the market since the bird flu outbreak, farmers warned yesterday.

Only about 20 of the 80 chicken farms have been allowed to reopen since March and their first birds would go on sale in June, New Territories Chicken Breeders spokesman Kwok Ming-cheung said yesterday.

One chicken farmer raising about 5,000 chicks in Kam Tin said operational costs had increased because of the need for better hygiene and ventilation.

'Since only a few farms have been allowed to raise chickens, the supply will certainly be tight,' he said.

'I believe the wholesale price will be $14 to $15 per catty, compared with $10 before the slaughter.' He had also hired an extra employee to clean the farm.

Farmer Lee Hoi-chak, who rears 16,000 chicks on his farm at Ta Kwu Ling, in the northern New Territories, said mainland chicks had risen from $4 to $5 each.

But he was optimistic the first batch would be popular because, by June, the local chicken supply would have been cut for more than six months.

Mr Kwok said about 40,000 to 50,000 chicks were being raised in about 20 local chicken farms, since import bans were lifted last month.

Some 20 of the remaining 60 farms would close, and 40 were still awaiting government permission.

'Some have to close down because they have no money to improve the facilities,' Mr Kwok added.

Even those farms whose bans would be lifted soon, would have to wait at least another three months before they could get any income, he said.

Each farm would need to cut its capacity by one-fifth to one-quarter to improve ventilation.

Chicken importer Guangnan Hong said the wholesale price for imported chicken had ranged from $8.50 to $12 per catty since April.