Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

In most areas of the world, broiler chickens are raised in floor systems, but cage confinement is becoming more common. The welfare of broiler chickens in cages is affected by movement restriction, poor bone strength due to lack of exercise, and prevention of key behavioral patterns such as dustbathing and ground scratching. Cages for broiler chickens also have a long history of causing skin and leg conditions that could further compromise welfare, but a lack of controlled studies makes it difficult to draw conclusions about newer cage designs. Cage environments are usually stocked at a higher density than open floor systems, and the limited studies available suggest that caging may lead to increased levels of fear and stress in the birds. Further, birds reared on the floor appear less likely to harbor and shed Salmonella, as litter may serve as a seeding agent for competitive exclusion by other microorganisms. Cages for laying hens used in egg production have met with substantial opposition due to welfare concerns and caging broiler chickens will likely be subject to the same kinds of social disapproval.

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