This is one of the most modern types of housing and, in fact, we were the first in Ontario to install this progressive type of housing.
While this system still relies on cages, the enclosures are larger and offer the hens more amenities. Hens are housed in smaller social groups ranging from 16–60. There is room for the hens to perch and to lay their eggs in nesting areas and, of course, they have 24-hour access to food and water.
Enriched colony housing provides the hens with advantages like nesting areas where they can lay clean eggs in a private space. Scratch pads and privacy areas are amongst the features that allow the hens to exhibit some of their natural behaviours. Like conventional housing, enriched also provides a lower carbon footprint on the environment and minimizes the chances of aggressive hen behaviour, like excessive pecking. However, it does cost more money to build these barns, which in turn drives up the cost of the eggs. The overall positive changes that enriched housing offers have led Canadian farmers to embrace this method.
The eggs are rolled out from the nesting area onto a conveyor belt for collection. These belts carry the eggs to a centralized collection area where the eggs are automatically packed wide-end up to keep the yolk centred.
Emperor penguins aside, most birds prefer warmer climates, and today’s layer hens are descended from jungle fowl. To accommodate the comfort of our hens, the barn is kept at the same temperature during both summer and winter.