Producers in Cambodia’s animal husbandry sector often complain that sales to traders are low, while market prices are high as the rearing of animals requires a high spend on animal feed and healthcare.

So if breeders could reduce expenditure by producing feed themselves, it would boost profits – as one farmer in Kep has demonstrated after carrying out research into making his own, reducing costs by around 30 per cent.

Om Phearum runs a free-range poultry farm in the coastal province, where he uses a feed mill to reduce costs by grinding up fish bones and crab shells.

He began raising chickens four years ago, and while there is currently high market demand for chicken, he said, he would only earn around 500,000 riel (around $125) a month.

However, this has grown since he began making his own feed with the guidance and support of production and veterinary officers from the provincial agriculture department, and a team from the government’s Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (Aspire) project.

“The ingredients for my feed include powdered fish bones and crab shells, corn, broken rice, water spinach and ground rice husks, and since I grind the chicken feed myself, I can reduce costs by around 30 per cent,” he said.

Although making his own feed can result in significant savings, Phearum said he has trouble securing a stable supply of ingredients, so for now he is carrying out more research into the production of animal feed to generate greater profits.

Regarding price, he said he sells 21-day old chickens to members of a farmers group for 6,000 riel per head, while he sells a kilogramme of broiler chicken for meat to contracted traders in the province for 18,000 riel.

And while his chicken farm is still family-run, with 50 hens, 10 roosters and 130 chicks, Phearum said he intends to use a bank loan to expand it.

“I plan to expand production by increasing the number of chicken coops and investing in a steel shed according to the business plan I have prepared with which to meet market demand,” he said.

By July this year, he wants to increase to 150 hens and 40 juvenile chickens, while continuing to refine and expanding the production of his own feed to reduce costs even more, he added.