Enriched housing groups hens together in larger units giving the birds more room to move around, stretch, spread their wings and express some of the natural behaviours that they would have if out in the wild. These include perching, scratching and laying their eggs in a private nesting area. Housing birds in smaller social groups also helps to reduce the impact of potentially aggressive actions (like feather pecking) from more dominant birds.
In this type of housing, manure also falls away from the area the birds live in. This helps to reduce the risk of disease or illness and keeps the eggs cleaner.
Birds are a tropical species and prefer to live in warmer climates. As such, the barn is kept at a constant temperature both summer and winter. The barns also help protect the birds from exposure to predators and to wild birds and the diseases they can potentially carry which could be harmful to both the hens and humans.
Perches for Roosting
Enriched housing has perches which give the birds a place to roost and sometimes have scratching pads to enable the birds to forage and peck.
Enriched or furnished housing also offers nesting areas where the hens will go to lay their eggs. Hens like laying eggs in the nesting areas where it is quiet, dark and where they have a sense of privacy. The nesting areas are covered with curtains and are designed with a slightly sloping floor. Once the eggs are laid, they roll down to the front of the nesting area and onto a conveyor belt. Most eggs will be laid in the morning.
Eggs on their way to the collection room
Here you can see the eggs that have rolled out of the nesting area and onto the conveyor belt that takes them up to a central collection room.
Automatic Feeding System
The feed is automatically delivered to the hens in troughs that run along the front of their housing units. You can see a close up here. The diet contains plenty of grains as well as vitamins and minerals. In fact, the feed hens eat can be compared to the cereal we eat for breakfast. Hens eat different quantities and types of food depending on their age. Feed rations are adjusted several times according to the age of the flock and the number of eggs they are laying.
Constant Access to Clean Drinking Water
Hens always have ready access to clean drinking water. In this barn, they access the water through drinking nipples in rows at the back of their housing units. The water lines are tested daily to make sure they’re working properly.
Bird care is important to all Canadian egg farmers. This barn has several staff, like Suzie, who walk through the barn several times a day to check on the birds and to ensure that the barn is the right temperature and that all of the feed and water lines are working properly.
Egg Conveyor System
This photo shows the eggs coming from the barn into the egg collection room. Eggs are collected twice a day on most Canadian egg farms. On average, a hen will lay about 300 eggs a year.
This egg collection system automatically packs the eggs into plastic, sanitized flats. The eggs are placed wide-end up in order to keep the yolks centered. These flats are then placed on skids and rolled into the cooler room. They are collected and taken by truck to a grading station once a week.
Thanks for taking our tour, we hope you enjoyed it and learned a little something about egg farming using enriched colony housing in Canada.