Govt to Ease Quotas on Live Chicken Sales

CHINA - Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow plans to relax the daily live chicken quota, and to give local farmers a chance to sell off stocks that built up after a ban was imposed on live chicken sales on 21 December.
calendar icon 6 January 2012
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The 21-day ban on sales was imposed after a chicken turned up dead at a local market. The bird later tested positive for avian flu H5N1.

The normal daily quota of 7,000 live chickens will be eased, once the ban is lifted on 12 January, as long as the risk of bird flu has not expended, Dr Chow said.

The infected chicken was discovered in a refuse bin at Cheung Sha Wan livestock wholesale market on 20 December. The ban on live poultry sales went into effect the next day.

Dr Chow said: "The supply amount would more be than 7,000 and it should depend on the market affordability and the needs of the citizens."

Chicken farmers want the government to give priority to chickens raised on local farms once sales resume.

The local farmers held a meeting on Thursday with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and said they expected the government to agree to their request for market priority.

"After the suspension of live chickens, there have been 450,000 chickens available for sale, stocked in local farms. If 14,000 to 20,000 chickens were sold each day, it would take about 20 days to sell out all the chickens. They could not be sold out until the Chinese Lunar New Year," said Wong Yung-kan, legislative councilor from agriculture and fisheries who assisted the farmers.

"If there is a further delay, the chickens would become bigger, which makes the chicken farms more crowded and their living environment would be worse than before," added Mr Wong.

"The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department would assist the local chicken farmers to select suitable chickens for the market," Dr Chow added.

Dr Chow added the birds will not remain in markets overnight. He urged continued vigilance since the risk of avian flu remains high in winter months.

Chow said he did not expect the industry to push live chickens to the wholesale market without limit once the ban is lifted. That would cause storage problems and according to past experience, after the suspension of live chicken for a period of time, people rush to buy them. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department took thousands of samples after the infected bird was found. No further traces of the virus were discovered.
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