KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Malaysian poultry suppliers are said to be working around the clock in a race against time to send as many chickens as they can to neighbouring Singapore, before the June 1 fowl export ban kicks in.

Citing some eight farmers and suppliers, The Straits Times reported the Malaysia operators have been increasing their work hours and delivery trucks to make the daily road trip across the Causeway to meet surging demand for fresh chickens in the republic that have emptied out some supermarkets there of stock.

Visiting one farm in Johor, the Singapore daily observed that the chickens for the Singapore market were sent at only 33 days old compared to 40 days previously.

One of the unnamed farmers told the newspaper that the lorries transporting chickens to Singapore have increased from two a day to six, with each lorry carrying some 6,000 chickens.

Another farmer explained the reason Malaysian operators were rushing poultry deliveries to Singapore.

"Every extra day we keep them instead of selling them increases our costs, and if we are hoarding, then when we do sell, we'll be making losses," the anonymous farmer was quoted saying.

"If Singaporeans find alternatives, they may not buy our chickens any more even after the ban is lifted.

"If the Singapore authorities offer us space to raise chickens there instead, I will definitely be the first one to move all our operations over," he added.

The same farmer rejected claims that they were hoarding chickens to create a false demand for it in Malaysia.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri announced a stop to Malaysia's export of its chickens from June 1 until prices and supply in the country stabilises.

He also announced that the government would look into creating a buffer stock of chicken and optimising cold storage facilities that are owned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries.

Other poultry industry players attributed the chicken crisis to labour shortage, rising operation costs, animal disease, and bad weather.

The Straits Times reported that only 115 farms in peninsular Malaysia have the Singapore Food Agency's approval to shop their chickens there, and that 91 of these are located in Johor alone.

According to the newspaper, Singapore imported about 34 per cent, or close to 73,000 tonnes, of its chicken supply from Malaysia last year.

The island nation's other major sources of the poultry for the same year were Brazil (48 per cent) and the US (8 per cent), but these were frozen meat.