Many people ask us: what exactly makes enriched colony hen housing, “enriched”? It is, in a sense, like seating on an airplane. If conventional housing is economy class then enriched colony housing is business class—more amenities, more space, more comfort. In the words of Nova Scotia egg farmer Glen Jennings, “the hens are ten times happier in enriched colony housing.” To understand what makes a chicken “ten times happier”, we want to show you the amenities that make enriched colony housing great—and the incredible effects they have on the lives of hens.
1. Room to grow
Enriched colony housing systems feature more square feet per bird than conventional housing. That extra space means much more than walking room for hens. It means more room to stretch, to sit and to spread their wings. That extra space also allows for features that empower natural hen behaviours, the things hens simply love to do. Just like…
2. Privacy—even chickens want it!
In nature, hens seek privacy away from other birds when they lay their eggs. They particularly like dark places. The orange folds you see in this image are privacy curtains, giving them their coveted “alone time”.
3. A soothing scratch
Hens in the wild scratch at the ground as they hunt for food. Hens are compelled to scratch, and scratch pads allow them to do just that. These grooved pads fit perfectly in enriched colony housing systems.
4. “Branches” for perching
Just like other birds, hens find safety and comfort in the branches of trees. They seek out these branches to sleep peacefully in the evenings, safe from their predators. The long metal rods you see in this image are perching rods. They mimic those branches hens love so much in nature. The chickens wrap their claws around these rods and use them to perch.
5. All the water they could ever want
Those hanging, orange objects you see are waterers. As the name implies, this is where the hens get the water they drink. Because of the large cage size in enriched colony housing, more waterers can fit into each cage. That means more water for each hen and healthier hens. Enriched colony housing works for hens and it works for the farmers who raise those hens—farmers like Nova Scotia’s Jennings family. You can check out their story about enriched production at Bayview Poultry Farm by clicking here.