+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ PDF Full Text Service
How our service works
Request PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedIn
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
Most Shared
PDF Full Text
+ Translate
+ Recently Requested

European study on the comparative welfare of laying hens in cage and non-cage systems



European study on the comparative welfare of laying hens in cage and non-cage systems



Archiv fuer Gefluegelkunde 70(5): 194-198



Council Directive 1999/74/EC (1999) defines three major categories of housing system: alternative (non-cage), unenriched'(conventional) cage and enriched (furnished) cage. Conventional cages are to be phased out by 1st January 2012, leaving only two categories of housing system. Both categories however comprise a wide variety of different designs and models, making it hard to draw conclusions on bird welfare in these systems. Thus, it is deemed important to gather information on the comparative welfare of hens in various egg production systems. The objective of this study is to provide information about the comparative welfare of laying hens housed in a variety of egg production systems, using evaluation criteria based on the Swedish poultry welfare monitoring system. The study involves assessments on flocks in conventional and furnished cages, single and multi-tier aviaries (barns) with and without verandas as well as fixed and mobile house free-range systems. Production assessments are measured throughout the laying period. Physical condition assessments are carried out on hens at about 35 and 60 weeks of age looking at feather cover on the back and wing area, feather hygiene, comb wounds, rear and back wounds, keel bone deformity, bumblefoot and broken claws. Environmental assessments are taken at about 35 and 60 weeks of age. The basics of the evaluation programme are results obtained on production, mortality and physical condition in relation to stipulated minimum requirements given as percentages of defect birds. Each physical condition assessment parameter is scored from I to 4, where 1 means a serious defect and 4 means very good condition. For the physical condition assessments, only scores of 1 and 2 are included in the minimum requirements. Only those hens are counted in the total percentage of defect hens.Early indications show that feed usage of hens in cage systems (both conventional and furnished) is lower than in non-cage systems, even though the bodyweight and egg production of hens is higher in cage systems than in non-cage systems. Interim results suggest that mortality is probably low or very low in conventional and furnished cages, moderate in barns/aviaries and highest in the free-range system. This may be one indication of poorer welfare in free-range systems, and taken together with the apparent lower production, it may be an important one that warrants further investigation. To date, all systems studied have met the Swedish welfare standards for rear and back wounds, feather hygiene and broken claws. The most favourable housing systems for laying hens in terms of comb wounds, keel bone deformity and bumblefoot are conventional and fumished cages.

Please choose payment method:






(PDF emailed within 1 workday: $29.90)

Accession: 012786841

Download citation: RISBibTeXText


Related references

Production comparisons between cage and litter keeping and between different cage systems cage sizes and number of hens per cage. Archiv fuer Gefluegelkunde 32(6): 438-443, 1968

Welfare assessment of laying hens in furnished cages and non-cage systems an on-farm comparison. Animal Welfare: 4, 363-373, 2008

The effects of stocking rate and modified management on the welfare of laying hens in non-cage systems. Animal Science Papers and Reports 23(Suppl. 1): 181-188, 2005

Welfare assessment of laying hens in furnished cages and non-cage systems assimilating expert opinion. Animal Welfare: 4, 355-361, 2008

Egg production and welfare of laying hens kept in different housing systems (conventional, enriched cage, and free range). Poultry Science 95(7): 1564-1572, 2016

Cage fatigue or cage paralysis of laying hens, a new syndrome of chickens kept in cages. Deut Tierarztl Wochensch 73(12): 277-279, 1966

Welfare and the structure of a battery cage: size and cage floor preferences in domestic hens. British Veterinary Journal 134(5): 469-475, 1978

Behaviour and welfare of individual laying hens in a non-cage system. British Poultry Science 44(1): 22-29, 2003

Effects of Furnished Cage Type on Behavior and Welfare of Laying Hens. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 29(6): 887-894, 2016

Effect of cage area, cage height and perches on feather condition, bone breakage and mortality of laying hens. British Poultry Science 39(2): 198-202, 1998

Animal welfare initiatives improve feather cover of cage-free laying hens in the UK. Animal Welfare 25(2): 243-253, 2016

Cage systems for laying hens. 1986

Performance and behaviour of laying hens in enriched modified cage systems. British Poultry Science 37(Suppl. ): S7-S10, 1996

On-farm comparison of keel fracture prevalence and other welfare indicators in conventional cage and floor-housed laying hens in Ontario, Canada. Poultry Science 94(4): 579-585, 2015

Effect of enriched modified cage systems on the performance and behaviour of laying hens. British Poultry Science 36(5): 834-835, 1995