It's always been a possibility because farming is mostly still done by small-time farmers (backyard farmers) across the country. According to Cambodia's Department of Animal Health and Production (DAHP), six per cent of the chickens in Cambodia are raised in commercial farms and 94% in non-commercial farms. For ducks the figures are 29% and 71% respectively. (quoted in this 2004 report by the UN FAO [PDF]. FAO is short for Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Chicken farming in Cambodia
A google search of poultry farms only garnered one listing: R.V.J. POULTRY FARM in Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Chicken farmers have not had an easy time this year. From a July article in the Phnom Penh Post found on worldpoultry.net: "Cambodia poultry industry struggling"
Dozens of the Kingdom's chicken farmers say they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as they are forced to shut down. They blame the global economic crisis for their woes and now fear the possible impact of bird flu, they said...Sar Sochetra, the office manager in MAFF's The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) department of animal health and production told the Post there are 237 chicken farms breeding the birds for meat, and 45 farming them for eggs. He added meat-raising farms have about two million chickens, while egg-raising farms have about one-tenth of that number.
Man Veasna, 57, lost $4,000 on his chicken farm, and said 25 other farms in the village had gone bust.
"Do you know why so many chicken farms have gone bankrupt? I can tell you that the main reason is the increasing cost of raising chickens - this has exceeded the income that can be earned from them," he said. "If we continue raising chickens, we will lose more money, and eventually our homes and our land."
KFC is the largest buyer of chickens in the world and it's no different in Cambodia, where they opened doors last year. Benjamin Jerome, general manager of KFC Cambodia, told the Phnom Penh Post the company buys 20 tonnes of chicken a month for its four outlets.
I hope the day will never come for Cambodia's first battery farm.
According to "Battery hens and broiler chickens", an article published in politics.co.uk),
"In the poultry industry, factory farms or "batteries" were designed to maximise production and minimise costs, through methods including high stocking densities, close control of the availability of food, water and light, selective breeding and medication."Besides the cruelty, there are also health concerns such as salmonella and hormones. A friend of mine in Singapore had a yeast infection that just would not go away, until her doctor told her to cut out chicken.
Opponents of battery farming condemn the conditions that egg laying hens are kept in. Birds are kept in cramped and overcrowded conditions, in which they are unable to perform natural behaviours such as scratching and dust-bathing; they are frequently "debeaked" in order to prevent fighting and self-harm; they are denied darkness and food in order to encourage constant egg-laying; and conditions in sheds can be unhygienic, with hens living amongst dead birds and faeces. Laying hens have also been selectively bred to produce unnaturally large numbers of eggs - up to 330 per year. Studies have shown this breeding to have increased susceptibility to cancer. Unwanted male chicks bred in the laying industry, moreover, are gassed shortly after birth.
Conditions for broilers are marginally better, insofar as they are not raised in cages, but on the ground, but again in cramped, dark and hot sheds. Poor facilities can mean that broilers walk around in their own excreta, causing foot ulcerations and "hock burns" - black marks caused by ammonia that can sometimes be seen on chickens in the shops.
However, the main welfare problem with regard to broilers is the impact of selective breeding on the birds themselves. Broilers reach their slaughter weight in around 40 days, half the time birds took to reach full size 30 years ago. This growth rate puts immense strain on their hearts and lungs, and their legs are frequently unable to support their overgrowth bodies.
On Jan 1, 1992, Switzerland became the first country to ban battery farms. It's also banned in Belgium, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands and throughout the European Union from 2012. Battery cages will also be banned in California in 2015.