5 July 2002

Enhanced cage

has its points

WELL designed furnished poultry cages offer several advantages over conventional battery cages, such as reducing lameness in laying hens, according to one researcher.

ADASs Andrew Walker demonstrated an enhanced poultry cage to producers which is being introduced under EU legislation. "These cages are set to replace conventional cages by 2012."

But this is currently under review and Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley recently suggested enhanced cages could also be banned, he warned.

However, Dr Walker highlighted that enhanced cages offer birds 50% more space. "They also include a perch, nest box and a scratching area to allow birds to have a dust bath. These features allow birds to exhibit more natural behaviour than current battery cages."

"Providing a perch also enhances welfare, as birds feet are in contact with wire mesh for shorter periods, cutting lameness."

But selecting the wrong cage design can lead to some problems, such as more downgraded eggs due to soiling. This is caused by birds feeding from the nest box area and soiling the box. The ADAS cage avoids this using a flap between the nest box and feed trough, he said. &#42

Enhanced cages give birds 50% more space, but design is vital, says Andrew Walker.