Seng Choon Farm, which produces about 10 per cent of eggs consumed in Singapore, is a family-owned business that sits on a sprawling 36-acre Lim Chu Kang farm. Its 800,000 chickens produce an average of 600,000 eggs daily. Koh Yeow Koon, 41, is managing director of Seng Choon Farm.
How did you get started in your family’s 30-year-old business?
I’d say there wasn’t much choice but luckily I’m interested in this business. As long as I have the passion, I’m willing to do it. I’ve never worked at any other place. I was always interested in finance so I studied business. It’s relevant to my current job, although I do all sorts of things here now, including taking care of the machinery even though I’ve never studied about technical stuff (laughs). I’m the youngest in my family. My three elder sisters work on the farm too. We are strong in different things, so we take care of the different aspects of running the farm. For instance, one of my sisters is strong in pharmaceuticals, so she takes care of the [well-being] of the chickens.
Seng Choon sells different kinds of eggs, like carrot eggs. Walk us through the varieties you offer.
We started offering eggs with lower cholesterol [level], then some customers who were farmers started asking for first-born eggs, which are eggs produced by hens from their first lay. They think they’re better. The nutritional value is about the same [as the average egg], but the egg white is thicker. We also have carrot eggs which are rich in lutein, a carotenoid which protects the eyes. We feed lutein to chickens who then pass it on to their eggs.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
There is a lot of automation on the farm, so part of my job is to look into increasing productivity and efficiency. I start my day by praying for an uneventful day (laughs). A bad day would involve having to look into machinery that has broken down. It’s tough ’cos most of our machinery is purchased from overseas and there is only one set here. So we’ve to make sure the machines get fixed and run smoothly. We also take care of the farm’s biosecurity and try to prevent diseases from coming into the farm and infecting the chickens. Farming is a bit unpredictable. We can only do our best to make the chickens happy in a controlled environment such as regulating the temperature in the coops.
What’s the best way to cook eggs then?
Sunny side up. That’s when you can really taste the egg’s flavour. If you hard boil your egg, it loses the yolk taste.
What are your hopes for Singapore’s farming community?
I hope that Singaporeans will recognise and appreciate local farming more. Most people buy their food from supermarkets and they don’t know how much hard work goes into [producing food]. It is really fortunate that we can produce our own food despite being an urban city state, so we are really lucky to get fresh, locally-farmed eggs!