Local poultry farms may disappear in two years under a radical government plan to prevent another outbreak of bird flu, the trade's leaders warned yesterday. 'Under the high-handed government policy, smaller farms will be the first ones to be hit. All local farms are likely to close in one or two years, one after another,' said Lee Leung-kei, deputy director of the New Territories Chicken Breeders Association. He accused the government of trying to shut all chicken farms by using administrative means. Under the government plan, the total population of live poultry in local farms will be halved to save culling time in the event of an outbreak. It would also permanently close all 147 farms if two farms were infected within a short time. Mr Lee said farms would not be able to survive if they were forced to halve the supply of live poultry. 'We need to maintain enough supply to keep our businesses running. It is completely unreasonable for the government to plan to cut the population of live chickens; this is against the principle of a free market,' he said. Hong Kong Chilled Meat and Poultry Association chairman Kwok Shi-hing said chicken farms were already in fierce competition with both farms on the mainland and chilled chickens, which cost half the price of live ones. Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok defended the plan yesterday, saying the health risk of bird flu justified the drastic measures.