Furnished cages were developed in response to criticisms about conventional battery-cage confinement of laying hens in commercial egg production. Battery cages—small, barren, wire enclosures—restrictively confine the birds, depriving them of the opportunity to display many important patterns of behavior. In contrast, furnished cages are typically equipped with a nest box, perch, and dustbathing area, thereby providing more behavioral outlets than conventional cages. However, similar to conventional battery cages, furnished cages provide an unacceptably limited amount of space per bird; prevent many important locomotory activities, including running, jumping, flying, and wing-flapping; and constrain perching, dustbathing, and nesting. The severe locomotory restriction of cages also prevents hens from obtaining normal amounts of exercise, which in turn leads to poor skeletal strength and other pathologies. While allowing for some natural behavior denied in conventional cages, furnished cages remain unable to adequately provide for an acceptable level of welfare for hens kept in commercial egg production.
The Humane Society of the United States, "Welfare Issues with Furnished Cages for Egg-Laying Hens" (2010). HSUS REPORTS. 14.