Chickens fall prey to dry spell

THE dry spell has claimed more victims - chickens, this time.

The survival rate of farmed chickens has gone down, suppliers here say, and their profits have fallen by 20 per cent, Shin Min Daily News reported.

Industry players also say that the north-east monsoon has affected poultry farms in Malaysia, resulting in a shortage of both chicks and chicken meat.

The prices of chickens imported into Singapore, which come mainly from Johor and Malacca, have gone up, adding to costs for distributors here, they said.

"The drastic change in the weather means the chickens fall sick more easily and supply has shrunk. It is even worse in the northern parts of Malaysia, and they are buying chickens from the south, affecting supply there," said Mr Chen of Lee Say Poultry Industrial.

"Laying hens have been affected too, and there are fewer eggs, resulting in fewer chicks," he said.

He added that the price of chicks has risen from $1.20 each last year to $2.10 this year.

Mr Ma Chin Chew, chief executive of Hup Heng Poultry Industries, said: "Chicken meat now costs $6.40 a kilogram, up from $5 a kilogram before the Chinese New Year.

"But while the costs have gone up, we dare not raise prices for consumers. We are absorbing the 20 per cent increase in costs."

Increased demand during Chinese New Year also added to the shortage, he said.

Suppliers may have to raise prices if costs remain high, Mr Ma added.

The secretary of the Poultry Merchants' Association, Mr Chew Kian Huat, said it will observe the situation for three months before deciding whether to adjust prices.

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