Enriched cages are larger, housing dozens of hens, said Tina Widowski, an animal and poultry science professor at the University of Guelph who holds the research chair in poultry welfare at Egg Farmers of Canada. The cages provide perches and somewhat private nesting areas.
She said enriched cages give chickens more space, allowing them to exhibit natural behaviours like dust bathing, perching and laying eggs in private.
Widowski say cage-free living conditions have some trade-offs. They can poorly impact chicken and farmer health by exposing them to irritants like dust and can cost more to operate.
It’s unclear which cage-free option Tim Hortons, Burger King and other restaurants making such public declarations will source their eggs from. Cage-free never means chickens will go outside, said Widowski, unless they’re producing free-range or certified organic eggs.