Why do they put hens in cages?

Ag Zone, Science for Youth May 18, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Most of the eggs sold in stores come from hens kept in cages. So why would you want to put hens in cages?

  1. The hens are kept separate from their poop which helps to prevent the hens from getting sick
  2. It is easier to feed large number of hens using automated feeders
  3. It is easier to examine each hen daily to make sure that they are healthy
  4. Once the eggs are laid they roll away from the hen keeping the eggs cleaner reducing food safety risk
  5. The eggs can be collected easier and quicker
  6. You can put more hens in a chicken house to produce more eggs per hen house
  7. The temperature of the room can be kept at a comfortable level so the hens do not get too hot or too cold
  8. It is easier to protect the chickens from wild animals when they are inside a chicken house

So what are some of the problems with keeping chickens in cages?

  1. The chickens are not able to perform natural behaviors like dust bathing, scratching the ground and nesting
  2. The amount of space for each hen to move around in can be small with some farmers giving their hens more space than others
  3. The environment can be boring for the chickens so that some hens will peck at each other resulting in hens getting hurt


Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky

Photo by Farm Watch / CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.