Poultry farmers are being urged to improve conditions on their properties to stop further bird flu outbreaks. During a meeting with poultry trade representatives yesterday, officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department proposed a list of requirements for chicken farms to prevent another bird flu crisis. Proposals include replacing open farms with ventilated chicken houses and waste disposal, limiting the number of chickens kept on farms to avoid overcrowding, and imposing more stringent hygiene measures. The meeting took place as workers began slaughtering 340,000 birds on farms in Kam Tin to contain the latest outbreak of bird flu. The legislator representing the poultry sector, Wong Yung-kan, said farmers had expressed concerns over the cost of implementing the new requirements. 'They want some financial support such as low-interest loans from the Government for buying new equipment,' he said. But he conceded: 'Although we know farmers could face some difficulties during the changes, if the trade wants to upgrade itself it must face the challenge.' The industry has admitted that the standard of some farms is unsatisfactory, making them vulnerable to infectious disease. 'Our chicken farms are of the standard of the 1970s or 1980s. In the mainland, many farms are very modernised,' Mr Wong said. The industry has proposed that farmers set up their own compensation fund for those affected by bird flu incidents in the future. Farmers have also said they might vaccinate chickens against bird flu viruses. Professor Desmond O'Toole, a microbiologist at City University, said the Government should also look at controlling the movement of humans on farms. 'People who go to and from farms might bring the virus on their person and transfer it from one farm to another,' he said. The officials at yesterday's meeting said each farm should have a sterilisation pool to clean incoming vehicles and visitors.