The Edinburgh modified cage for laying hens.

M.C. Appleby, B.O. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Behaviour, production and welfare of ISA Brown medium hybrids were assessed in 2 trials (each from 20 to 44 weeks of age) of a novel design of cage for laying hens: the Edinburgh Modified Cage (EMC). 2. The EMC was 600 mm wide, 450 mm deep and 450 mm high at the rear; it had a softwood perch and at one side a 250 mm wide nest box (containing litter or artificial turf) with a dust bath directly above. It housed 4 birds and provided 675 cm2/bird in the main cage with an additional 281 cm2/bird in the nest box. The nest box and dust bath had automatically controlled doors which were closed at night. There were 18 EMC; in the first trial these were compared with 6 control cages with perch but without next box or dust bath. 3. Hens spent 32 to 37% of day time on the perch, 5 to 7% in the dust bath and 5 to 6% in the nest. At night 92 to 98% roosted on the perch. 4. Initially only 55 to 70% of eggs were laid in the nest box partly because some eggs were laid before dawn. Once the door was retimed to open 3h before lights-on the proportion rose to 91 to 96%. Very few eggs were laid in the dust bath. Pre-laying behaviour lasted longer in treatments with nest boxes (55 to 76min) than in control cages (48min); disturbance was slight in all treatments, but lowest in control cages. 5. Dust baths were well used, with on average 61% of hens dust bathing during a 3-h afternoon observation period compared with only 17% in control cages. Two birds could use the dust bath simultaneously. 6. It was concluded that although a number of minor design features still required attention the EMC has potential to reduce the disadvantages of conventional cages for welfare while retaining their advantages and has possible commercial application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-718
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Poultry Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1995


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