The daily shipment of live chickens from the mainland will be increased from the current 30,000 birds to 40,000, to meet demands during the Dragon Boat Festival, officials said. But poultry traders said the increase would still not meet demand and feared the retail price would be pushed up. The curbs on imports of live chickens would be slightly relaxed from tomorrow until Sunday, said Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong yesterday. Wet markets will therefore have 10,000 live chickens more than usual from Saturday to Monday. It is a tradition to use freshly slaughtered chickens as offerings to the gods and as celebratory fare during the festival, which falls on Tuesday. Dr Yeoh said the measure was only to cope with a sudden increase in the demand for live chickens, and the supply would return to normal levels after the three days. But Steven Wong Wai-chuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers and Retailers Association, said the increase was negligible. 'The Dragon Boat Festival is a big festival, and we need about 220,000 to 230,000 live chickens to meet the demand,' he said. Mr Wong added that poultry traders came under financial pressure after the government imposed a quota on importation of mainland live poultry after the resumption of imports in April. They had been stopped in January after an outbreak of avian flu. Meanwhile, Dr Yeoh said he believed the importation of day-old chicks would be resumed at the end of this month, after discussions between staff of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and Guangdong officials.