Layer Hen Housing
SPCA supports housing systems that provide chickens with a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met.
SPCA advocates that all layer hens must be kept in enriched, well-maintained free range systems. All hens should have unrestricted access to an outdoor area for at least 8 hours per day with appropriate, well-maintained ground and vegetative cover, and suitable artificial and/or natural shelters that protects them from the elements and overhead predators.
For all housing, environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, ammonia and dust levels must be controlled, and good litter quality and proper ventilation must be maintained to ensure the health and comfort of the chickens at all times. The farm environment must include effective and suitable enrichment material that allow for a range of species-specific behaviours such as nesting, scratching, foraging, pecking, dust-bathing, and perching. Chickens must be provided with enough space to move freely, turn around completely and perform natural behaviours such as preening, wing flapping, and stretching. Chickens should never be kept in continuous or near continuous light or dark.
(See ‘Backyard Chickens and Other Poultry’ for more information)
SPCA opposes the farming of layer hens within colony cages.
SPCA advocates that all laying hens should be kept in appropriate cage-free systems. The banning of conventional cages from 2022, while permitting colony cages (sometimes called ‘enriched cages’), did not go far enough.
Colony cages fail to adequately meet the physical, health and behavioural needs of layer hens.