A New Territories man running an illegal chicken farm is pursuing legal aid to sue the government for seizing his flock. Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officers inspected Lo Kwok-lau's farm at San Tin Heung near the Lok Ma Chau-Huanggang border crossing on Thursday and confiscated his 329 chickens, which he said were his family's sole source of income. His wife, Lo Yeung-fong, 36, said they switched from farming pigs to chickens in late 2004, when they could no longer afford to feed and raise the pigs. 'We talked to [department] officials and they told us it would be OK if we switched to farming chickens, but they never gave us a commercial licence,' she said. 'But what else could we do? We had to bring up our two sons.' Mrs Lo said the family used to earn a few thousand dollars a month from selling the chickens, which she did as an illegal hawker. Mr Lo, 67, visited the Legal Aid Department yesterday morning, accompanied by 11 other chicken owners and members of the Anti-Bird-Flu Action Alliance. Alliance spokesman Shek Kwok-keung said Mr Lo aims to sue the government for the seizure of his property. He added that Mr Lo filed an application for legal aid after meeting a legal aid department lawyer. A government spokesman confirmed the meeting, but said it was only to explain the procedure. No formal application had been made. The Lo family is being supported by the Heung Yee Kuk, whose chairman, Lau Wong-fat, visited their farm with other kuk members. Kuk vice-chairman Cheung Hok-ming acknowledged that the Lo family was operating an illegal farm. 'But there are historical reasons for that, and they deserve our compassion,' he said. The kuk insists it will file its own legal challenge to the government's ban on backyard poultry farming on the grounds it breaches Basic Law and Bill of Rights safeguards to property rights. Mr Lau said the legal challenge would be filed next week. 'We will stand strong against the government, but we will do it in a fair and reasonable manner,' he said. However, a government source urged the kuk to abandon the legal challenge. 'We are appealing to the villagers not to waste time on legal action. All these measures are being done to protect public health, including their own health. If there is a bird flu outbreak it will affect the whole economy.'