With Easter just behind us, it seems quite timely that Eggscellent Eggs, the new cage-free chicken egg farm, is quietly making waves amongst the hotels and restaurants of Siem Reap. With its tagline ‘happy chickens, better eggs, fair jobs,’ the farm has been supplying the likes of Park Hyatt and Raffles since last year.
Swiss expat David Keller started Eggscellent Eggs out of a desire to create more jobs in the rural communities.
“I have always wanted to create jobs,” he says. “My wife and I used to work with street children in Phnom Penh. Then I realised there are a lot of activities in the city – NGOs, businesses – but there is not so much in the countryside. I was looking for a sustainable social enterprise. I started researching and realised that it needed to be something agricultural. There are so many agriculture programs that are imported from Thailand or Vietnam and I thought if it’s possible there, why not here?”
Armed with 500 chickens, Keller started the farm. Being strongly opposed to the battery-farmed method – which he says supplies most of the shops and markets in Siem Reap – he built a large barn in which the chickens could roam freely.
“It’s about producing high quality,” says Keller. “I want to see higher quality than we have in Switzerland, this is my passion. I don’t use the term ‘free-range’ – I think we do it the most animal-friendly way that is possible.
Our hens can roam around, they can fly, they can sit on perches, and they can play in dust and hay.
I am convinced that they are very happy.” But, he says, an enclosure is necessary to prevent certain risks like bird flu. “We have to protect our hens from diseases,” he says. “We have to protect them with a mesh because bird flu is usually brought in by small birds.”
And the crucial question: does a happy hen make for a tastier egg?
Keller thinks so, and much of Siem Reap’s expat community is in agreement.
Rachel Band, owner of Rosy Guesthouse says, “Eggscellent eggs are very nice quality and starkly different in taste and yolk colour to the battery-caged chicken farmed eggs from the markets. It's a great addition to the higher quality produce available locally.”
Other expats rave in terms such as, “Best eggs in town,” “the only eggs I trust” and “very good and consistent eggs.”
Eggscellent eggs can be purchased at The Glasshouse Café in Park Hyatt for $3 for a box of six.