Cost is Key Factor When Considering Enriched Cages

CANADA - A researcher with the University of Manitoba says cost is the biggest consideration when deciding whether to switch from the use of conventional to enriched cages for housing laying hens, Bruce Cochrane writes.
calendar icon 8 December 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Hog and Poultry Days 2010 is slated for tomorrow and Thursday in Winnipeg.

Among the topics to be discussed as part of this year's seminar programme is ‘Enriched Cages: Poultry Welfare and Production Systems.’

Dr Juan Carlos Rodriguez, an assistant professor and an avian immunologist in the University of Manitoba's Department of Animal Science, explains enriched cages used for housing laying hens provide more space than conventional cages and amenities that allow for more natural behaviour.

Dr Juan Carlos Rodriguez-University of Manitoba

During the last 15 years there has been a very clear tendency, how to allow the animals to be moving much better in the cages.

We have been developing a very nice system for the past 50 years.

Considering the conventional cages, you can have four animals in a cage and they can be moving very handily.

However, now there is a very clear tendency that we need to provide much better space in order to stretch the wings, legs and to perch when resting.

Literally, it's just to allow the animal to be behaving like they do in the natural or in the wild.

We know there is a perception that welfare is important for the poultry industry.

However, we need to know the cost-benefit for everybody.

In this consideration, basically, welfare is the principal goal in our systems.

Dr Rodriguez notes research conducted over the past three years has shown the productivity of the birds housed in enriched cages and their longevity is no different from that of those housed in conventional cages.

However, he acknowledges, the initial investment for enriched cages is high and recommends producers analyse that part carefully.

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