Policy: Intensive housing systems for laying hens

Policy type: Policy
Status: Current
Manual reference: 11b
Date ratified: 31 July 2013


The New Zealand Veterinary Association supports the housing of layer hens in systems that maximise their health, welfare and behavioural needs.


The Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare was issued in 2012, setting a phase-out period for caging systems that do not allow hens to express a range of normal behaviours (nesting, perching, scratching, ground pecking and dustbathing).

Systems that do allow such behaviours include:

  • Colony cages – enlarged enclosures with “private” nesting areas, perches and scratching areas;
  • Barns – buildings in which hens are not caged but are housed as a group. Barns may have:
    • No outdoor access but will still have nesting areas, perches and scratching areas;
    • Outdoor access to a range or covered winter garden.

However, the NZVA is mindful that all systems have advantages and disadvantages for both the welfare and the health of hens, and that the key to the success of any system, whether it be intensive or extensive, in providing for the welfare needs of hens is good stockmanship.


NAWAC (2012) Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Code of Welfare