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There has been a raging debate regarding the welfare of laying hens. Traditional cages and enhanced cages are two types of cages, which poultry farmers use in rearing hens. Comparative analysis of traditional cages and enhanced cages shows that they have marked differences in the way they influence the welfare of hens. According to Tactacan et al., traditional cages have negative effects on hens because they restrict them from performing natural behaviors, such as scratching, roosting, and nesting (698). Essentially, traditional cages confine hens to a small area, where they are unable to exercise by performing natural activities, and consequently, weaken their bones and debilitate their health. In contrast, enhanced cages offer sufficient freedom because they contain perches, scratch pads, and nesting areas, which promote the welfare of hens. Rodenburg et al. report that the European Union issued a directive in 2012, which prohibits the use of traditional cages in rearing laying hens because they have negative effects on their health (212). Hence, enhanced cages are better than traditional cages because they improve the welfare of hens and enhance their health.
Since traditional cages have negative impacts on the health of hens, the adoption of enhanced cages is essential. Rodenburg et al. recommend the adoption of furnished cages and alternative systems, which have an area of 750 cm2 and 1111 cm2 for each hen, respectively (212). These types of cages improve the welfare of hens because they offer sufficient freedom and contain nests, perches, and scratching surfaces that allow hens to express their natural behavior. Comparative analysis of the two forms of cages shows that alternative systems are more complex than furnished cages in terms of freedom of movement and the capacity to hold hens. Fundamentally, alternative systems offer enhanced freedom and can hold more hens than furnished cages.
- Does the health of hens vary according to the nature of cages used in rearing them?
- What are the cost-effective aspects of the traditional cages when compared to enhanced cages?
- What are the confounding parameters that influence the effects of housing on hens?
- “Concerns regarding the welfare of laying hens raised in battery cages have led to the development of enriched cages that allow hens to perform natural behaviors, including nesting, roosting, and scratching” (Tactacan et al. 298).
- “Bone quality measures tended to be higher for hens housed in enriched cages compared with hens in conventional cages” (Tactacan et al. 298).
- “The greater freedom of movement in alternative systems allows the birds to walk, run, and fly” (Rodenburg et al. 215).
- “Furnished cages do not seem to lead to higher levels of bacterial contamination than do conventional cages” (Rodenburg et al. 218).
Ideas that Come to the Mind
In the comparative analysis of the traditional cages and enhanced cages, it is evident that the nature of cages has a considerable impact on the health, hygiene, and welfare of hens. Owing to the negative effects of traditional cages on hens, the European Union has abolished their use in rearing hens. In this view, poultry farmers need to use enhanced cages in promoting the welfare of hens and augment hygienic conditions.
Rodenburg, Bas, Frank Tuyttens, Bart Sonck, Koen Reu, Lieve Herman, and Johan Zoons. “Welfare, health, and hygiene of laying hens housed in furnished cages and in alternative housing systems.” The Journal of Applied Animals Welfare Science 8.3 (2005): 211-226. Print.
Tactacan, Geraldine, Wagner Guenter, John Lewis, Juan Rodgriguez-Lecompte, and James House. “Performance and welfare of laying hens in conventional and enriched cages.” Poultry Science 88.3 (2009): 698-707. Print.